2017-02-23 / Front Page

Granting a legacy

Farmer’s roots in Saco ran deep
By Garrick Hoffman
Staff Writer


Stacy Grant, wife of Rick Grant, stands by one of the trucks Monday, Feb. 21, in the garage at the Grants’ farm. Stacy urged community members to have faith in her following the death of her husband, as she plans to continue the success of Grant’s Farm. (Garrick Hoffman photo) Stacy Grant, wife of Rick Grant, stands by one of the trucks Monday, Feb. 21, in the garage at the Grants’ farm. Stacy urged community members to have faith in her following the death of her husband, as she plans to continue the success of Grant’s Farm. (Garrick Hoffman photo) SACO – On his hundred acres of farmland in Saco, Rick Grant toiled away since 1984 growing sweet corn, green beans, summer squash and more – “all that summer stuff,” said his wife Stacy Grant – and he never displayed any interest in stopping.

“You all think we’re under a palm tree during the off season,” Rick posted on the Grant’s Farm Facebook page on Feb. 12, accompanying a photo of one of his tractors. “But we’re actually scrambling hard in the shop to get all our rebuilds done to start seeding in another 9-10 weeks!!”

On Monday Feb. 17, however, tragedy struck and blindsided the Grant family. While scraping snow off the roof of his truck at the farm on Grant Road in Saco, Rick had a heart attack and died. He was 57.


Stacy Grant looks at photos of her husband at the height of farming season, reflecting on his life as a farmer. In the middle left picture is “The Corn Crew,” as Stacy dubbed it, who help harvest and package corn. (Garrick Hoffman photo) Stacy Grant looks at photos of her husband at the height of farming season, reflecting on his life as a farmer. In the middle left picture is “The Corn Crew,” as Stacy dubbed it, who help harvest and package corn. (Garrick Hoffman photo) Born in Saco on March 20, 1959, Rick Grant was the son of a farmer, Benjamin Richard Albert Grant, who owned land that had been in the family since the 1700s when King George granted the 25- acre plot to Benjamin Grant of Scotland. The early Grants raised sheep, then dairy cows, then in 1959 dairy cows were sold and beef cows and mixed crops were introduced to the farm on a self sustaining scale. Rick’s father never farmed commercially, only bringing vegetables to farmers markets every now and then, and most of the land was consumed by trees.


Sitting dormant until the advent of spring, this Grant’s Farm truck is used to deliver vegetables to various stores, including Hannaford. (Garrick Hoffman photo) Sitting dormant until the advent of spring, this Grant’s Farm truck is used to deliver vegetables to various stores, including Hannaford. (Garrick Hoffman photo) Rick purchased his father’s share of the farm in 1984 after his father died, then bought out shares of others who also had ownership of some of the land, expanding his acreage to a little more than 100. But at the age of 26, he had no idea how to farm.

“He was in way over his head,” Stacy said. “All the other farmers in town laughed at him. They said, ‘You’re never going to make a go at this. You’re just a punk kid.’” However, he went to learn everything mostly autonomously, with the help of his father’s friends.

After becoming established on the farm, one of his father’s friends, Dick Kirby, sold vegetables for Rick. Kirby’s help didn’t end there. Kirby made an appointment with Hannaford Bros., then went to the meeting posing as Rick and struck a deal to sell produce from the farm.

Rick, finally a commercial farmer, sold vegetables through the supermarket chain ever since, at first selling bags of corn with increasing demand every year.

Eventually Rick cleared trees from the land, set up a saw mill and cut the trees himself, selling the wood to pay off his property taxes and to buy farming equipment.

In the 1990s Rick, the “brilliant businessman” that he was, his wife said, hosted motorcycle rallies called “Behind the Barn,” at the farm to also pay his property taxes. At one point he had a friend who needed gravel and sand. Rick, who needed a pond on the land for irrigation, saw this as an opportunity for both parties.

“He said, ‘You dig my pond, you can have the gravel and the sand,’” Stacy said.

The pond still remains, spanning five acres at 30 feet in depth.

The 100 acres of farmland is now used to grow summer vegetables such as squash, zucchini and tomatoes. Sweet corn and green beans are the principal crops. The vegetables are then sent via the Grants’ distribution trucks to Delhaize stores, including Hannaford, but they also ship “grab ‘n grow” bagged green beans to Penrose Farms in Florida, a distribution company that delivers agricultural goods to grocery stores.

Rick maintained the farm with Stacy’s help, but they would employ about 25 people per season to help with operations. Benjamin Grant, 30, Rick’s son, owns a piece of land to grow green peppers, beefsteak tomatoes and pumpkins. He borrows his father’s equipment to farm, and he will continue to work on his plot of land.

The farm boasts an advanced irrigation system, automated and pivoted, that uses state-of-the-art technology to ensure proper maintenance of the crops.

“You push buttons and it just rains for you,” Stacy said.

The corn, which she said has to be packaged “perfectly,” is harvested and shipped on the same day. Corn and other vegetables could be found at vegetable stands near the farm, which are sold for “dirt cheap,” Stacy said.

The hardest part of farming, she said, is maintaining employees, but everything else was too fun to be considered work.

Besides being a “brilliant businessman and excellent farmer,” Stacy said, Rick was also a “jokester” with a thick Maine accent who enjoyed inventing amusing words, which the family dubbed as “Rickinisms.”

“He always called doughnuts ‘diet pills,’” Stacy said.

When he was younger, Rick donned a perm and a mullet, and he retained a baby face for life, Stacy said. He loved motorcycles, dancing and craft beers. He also had a stomach that was physically off-set from 30 years of reversing his equipment without using mirrors.

He was also quite the romantic.

“He would pick me flowers, which is no small feat,” Stacy said. “All around the farm was wildflowers. Five times a season he would stop his tractor while farming, climb down out of it, step out into the field, walk over to the patch of flowers and pick. Then he’d get back in the tractor, keep going, see another patch, stop the tractor, put the tractor’s implement down every time, walk out to the patch and pick more out.”

When he came back from the farm, he’d have a Gatorade bottle full of flowers in different varieties for her. Once, when she was gone and she left her boots in her office, Rick had placed the bottle in one of her boots.

“They were in there beautifully arranged waiting for me for when I got back to the office,” she said.

Rick and Stacy were married for three years. Stacy, a former kindergarten teacher and a farmer in the summers, was living in Sunapee, New Hampshire when they met on FarmersOnly.com, a dating website for farmers. Rick had been married twice before, though the marriages didn’t last more than two years. After his second marriage, he was single for 25 years until he met Stacy. Six months passed and the two got married.

It seemed like it was meant to be, because they even had matching tractors.

“He was my best friend,” Stacy said. “We had a blast. We would go on hikes – anything we wanted to do. We were never bored. We worked everyday together.”

The Grants enjoyed their time together going motorcycling and playing board games like Stratego and Cribbage at their home, which they had built. They’d go snowmobiling in the local woods together with a bottle of wine and have picnics there. They went to Florida twice a year to enjoy Key West and visit Rick’s mother, who lives there during the winter. Every other Tuesday they’d go out to eat, and on weekends they’d go to Funky Bow Brewery in Lyman, where they would drink beer and dance.

The house they had built became Rick’s first home of his own. He had built a house for his first wife, but after they divorced she retained ownership. From then on he lived in apartments and at his mother’s house. Eventually he had a girlfriend who lived down the road from the farm and he’d stay with her, but the breakup left him without a home once again. Only after he met Stacy did things change, and they decided to build their own home. The house harbors a catwalk – Rick’s idea – a charming log cabin-like interior and no television because, according to Stacy, there’s always something to do. Originally, the yard, which the house sits on less than half a mile from the farm, was just trees and not open land, and Rick wanted his house away from the farm.

“Rick would bring people on his Gator (utility vehicle) to the house. He was so proud of it all,” Stacy said.

Stacy said some of her favorite memories of Rick came at the beginning and end of the seasons.

“At the beginning or end of the season, we’re both in our tractors in the same field,” she said. “I’m going one way and he starts at one end of the field, doing zippers (back and forth) throughout. I’m at the other end of the field with the same implement. We meet in the middle, and as we get closer to the middle, he’d look out and blow a kiss, wink, wave and lip ‘I love you.’

“He was an incredible romantic.”

Stacy, the only female farmer in the area, said community support has been wonderful and farmers have offered to help now that Rick has died. She said the only thing she asks for is for people to have faith in her as she tries to continue the success of her husband’s farm.

“Death will mean Mr. Grant won’t be there,” she said, but everything else for the farm will march forward as it should.

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