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Publication Details

Deseret farmer.

More information about this newspaper title may be available on the source website.

Source: Chronicling America [US Library of Congress]

Country: United States

State: Utah

City: Provo, Utah

Issues of this title available in Elephind: 46

Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 754

Earliest Date: 11 July 1908

Latest Date: 17 July 1909


Deseret farmer

In Utah’s parched deserts and craggy mountains, good crop land has always been hard to find. Still, early Utah settlers who believed that the barren land would “blossom as the rose” were determined to derive a living out of the unrelenting soil. By 1904, when the newspaper that later became the Utah Farmer debuted, some 400 farming communities dotted the state. And over the next 30 years, the number of farms increased nearly threefold, as industrious citizens adapted to the arid terrain of the Great Basin. Some farmers devoted thousands of acres to sugar beets, while others established cattle or sheep ranches, or poultry farms. Meanwhile, many of Utah’s farming families attempted to develop hardscrabble plots via dry farming, a technique requiring soil conservation and drought-resistant crops.

 One of the pioneers of the dry farming method was the scholar and scientist John Andreas Widtsoe, a native of Norway who had come to Utah as a boy in 1883 after his mother joined the Mormon Church. In 1891, Widstoe graduated from Brigham Young College in Logan. Three years later, he received high honors for his post-graduate work in chemistry at Harvard. Widstoe went on to teach at Logan’s Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University) and later became president of the University of Utah, as well as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in the Mormon Church. Widstoe’s book, Dry Farming, A System of Agriculture for Countries Under Low Rainfall, published in 1911, remains one of the seminal works on dry farming.

In 1904, Widstoe and two colleagues at the Utah State Agricultural College founded the Deseret Farmer. Taking its title from the original name for the Utah Territory, the Provo weekly promised to bring important information to every agriculturalist in the state. “Controversies of a religious or political nature will find no place in our columns,” the publication promised. “This paper stands for education in, for and by agriculture…Our hopes are to have the Deseret Farmer in the home of every farmer, fruit-grower, stock-raiser, dairyman, instructing and enlightening each equally in his chosen vocation, and helping him to appreciate the beauty and worthiness of his calling.”

 In 1905, Widstoe moved to Provo to help establish the department of agriculture at Brigham Young University. He continued to manage the Deseret Farmer, and when he returned to Logan two years later, his paper absorbed the Rocky Mountain Farmer, a rival publication that had sprung up in Widstoe’s absence. Shortly thereafter, the Deseret Farmer moved its operations to Salt Lake City and became the official organ of various agricultural and dairy associations. In 1922, it became the Utah Farmer, a name later changed to the Utah Farmer-Stockman  , which continued to publish until the 1990s.

Provided by: University of Utah, Marriott Library