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Brock Brothers Produce closing after 44 years

Staple of west valley community will close when stock runs out

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 11 2012 8:57 p.m. MDT

People pick up tomatoes by the T-shirt-full from the Brocks' field on Thursday. A few hours later, the produce ended up at one of three Brocks Brothers Produce stands.

Matt Powers, Matt Powers, Deseret News

WEST VALLEY CITY — It started as a simple local produce business, but after 44 years, Brock Brothers Produce will close.

Farming was in the blood of Fred and Glen Brock. They grew up on a sugar beet farm and started their own business in 1968. They soon started selling freshly picked corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and melons.

Their produce stands have been a staple in West Valley for more than four decades. But this month, the brothers are putting away their tractors and produce stands to enjoy retirement.

They have grown many things over the years, including peppers, cucumbers, zucchini squash and red potatoes. But these days, they mainly grow sweet corn and tomatoes.

The brothers started their business as a self-service stand in the front yard. "People would come and get their produce and leave the money in the slot," Glen Brock said.

Times have changed, but not their hard work and dedication to bring Utahns locally grown produce.

On Thursday, Fred Brock fired up the John Deere and headed into a cornfield where local neighborhood kids hand-picked the Ambrosia sweet corn by the armload and dumped it into the trailer.

A couple hundred yards away, his brother helped a group of kids pick Celebrity tomatoes. "It's a nice firm tomato," Glen Brock said. "It holds up well from field to produce stand."

In a few hours, all of the freshly picked items end up at one of three Brock produce stands. Customers from all over the region come to buy it.

"One lady yesterday, when I was down here, she said she'd been coming here since the mid-'70s," Fred Brock said.

At one point, the Brocks farmed on about 200 acres; now, they lease about 50. The brothers have three roadside stands: 3565 S. 4000 West behind Harmons, 5651 W. 4100 South and 4612 W. 3500 South. They're open Monday-Saturday from about 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or until the produce runs out.

Now, after many hot summers of hard work and long days — and also the sheer joy of providing fresh food — the Brocks say it's time to slow down and go fishing.

Their decision to retire came this summer. "It's just because we ran out of gas, is what it amounts to," Fred Brock said.

Farming is a lot of work, and it's just grown harder the last few years, he said. They put up a sign just a couple of weeks ago, informing their customers that this will be the final season.

Fred Brock's wife, Anita, has been a big part of the business. She hired all the workers and basically runs the business side of the farm. She is deeply touched by the support her family has received over the years from the community.

Longtime customers are sad to hear the Brocks are retiring. "They just about cry, some nearly have," Anita Brock said. "I feel so bad to be leaving them, and just appreciation. The customers are fabulous, and they thank us so much for being here and what we've done and how much they're going to miss us."

"They are not happy," Glen Brock said with a chuckle. "And I don't blame them, because we're going to miss it, too."

The two brothers ran the produce business, even while having full-time careers. Glen was with Winder Dairy for 52 years; Fred was a high school teacher for 34 years.

The growing season typically ends in mid-September, so the brothers say they probably won't miss the business until planting season arrives next year.

They will continue to farm, though. They have land of their own that they'll work on, but future harvests will just be for them.

Fred Brock laughs about what a longtime customer told him recently. "She said, 'I know you're going to grow a little bit. Is there a way I can give you my phone number and get invited over?'"

That sums up how much the Brocks will be missed.

As to when the last day of business will be, they are not sure. It will most likely be next weekend, or whenever the corn is gone.

Email: kmccord@desnews.com

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