Agriculture is a tough, but rewarding business. Some people are born into farming families, while others choose the path as a calling. Justin and Traci Helton combined a little of both in creating a versatile farming operation that concentrates on the four main crops produced in Fremont County.
Justin grew up on his grandparent’s family farm, while Traci was a “city girl” from Riverton. Beginning with 500 acres that Justin’s grandparents owned, the couple has added 400 more acres to their operation and lease an additional 1000 acres at locations around Riverton.
They grow alfalfa, corn, beets, and triticale, a man-made blend of rye and wheat. The diversity of the Helton operation and their dedication to working through challenges has helped them weather the fluctuation in markets, interest rates, and prices.
Family knowledge along with local support has helped the young family make its mark in the economically perilous world of Wyoming agriculture. They plant beets for a year, then corn for a couple of years, then rotate back to alfalfa for five to seven years. It’s all part of utilizing crops, and the natural intake and removal of nitrogen that allows good yields for centuries on the same land.
The couple is involved in the agriculture community in many ways. Justin is on the Riverton Valley Irrigation District Board and hauls cattle, and hay to local ranchers, as well as longer hauls when time and the workload permit. Traci is heavily involved in irrigation on their acres. For them it’s not just their job, but a lifestyle.
From cattle to corn to and from barley to beets, Wyoming’s agriculture landscape provides a variety of ways for families to support themselves and impact the community. It’s symbolizes much of what makes Wyoming special – the land, the opportunity, and the communities.
Photo credit: Randy Tucker