Building on a dream

HENRY—Tracy and Dan Painter moved to Henry in 2011 with a goal of participating in farmer’s markets in mind. Now they are expanding upon that goal by building a permanent farm stand on their property. 

Tracy Painter grew up on a farm and always wished to return to that lifestyle. When the Painters moved to the area, they made sure they had the room for a large garden so they could participate in farmer’s markets. 

Painter Produce operates on an acre and a half of land and features four high tunnels, a root cellar, beehives from E.B. Honey, two chicken coops, a compost yard and a lot of outdoor garden space.

Each plant begins its life in the Painter’s house. Tracy begins moving the plants out of the house when the weather starts warming up. Some plants will go into the high tunnel for protection and some will go to the outdoor gardens.

The Painters raise succession plants, meaning they plant several times a year. They do this to give their customers access to fresh produce longer. They also do this to introduce a new product to the market each week.

The type of produce planted in the outdoor gardens changes every 100 feet. Some of the produce options available are tomatoes, peppers of varying heat, cabbage, rhubarb, carrots, pumpkins, celery, zucchini, cantaloupes, watermelons and potatoes.

Tracy tries to keep all of the produce as natural as possible. The Painters hand shell and hand package the dry beans they grow. Chickens and a root cellar are also a part of the operation. 

“We don’t do any chemical spraying. We pull our weeds by hand. We bring in ladybugs to do beneficial insects to eat aphids and take care of insect problems,” said Tracy. 

Sometimes there will be product left over. The Painters will donate the excess to local senior centers, churches, nursing homes and soup kitchens.

Painter Produce delivers to Scottsbluff, Mitchell, Morrill and Torrington. They also have mobile units for when they travel to farmer’s markets.

When COVID hit in 2020, the Painters pulled out of most of the farmer’s markets and they made the decision to move to an awning-based stand on their farm.

Tracy said, “We moved the market sales to just a temporary awning-based selling booth on farm and people came, so that gave us the idea to build an on-farm market stand.”

Construction on the stand began in March 2021 and it is set to open sometime in the near future. A commercial kitchen will allow the Painters to make their pasta sauce and many other FDA approved products.

Tracy encourages those who are interested to ask for a tour and, for those who have questions to ask.


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