Not yet out of high school, Eli Priest works hard, even during the summer break
If you think every teen sleeps until noon, you haven’t met 15 year old Eli Priest. Up as early as 5:30 am and as late as 6:45 am, he plants seeds, hoes and weeds, harvests, washes and does most anything else to help his family prepare for the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market three times a week.
Eli Priest, 15, rises as early as 5:30 am to help his family care for their family's flowers and vegetables that are sold at the Fayetteville Farmer's Market three days a week.
It already feels late at 8:00 a.m. during a visit to the family’s Coyote Farms in West Fork. The entire family and crew is in motion and their work clothes show signs that work began some time ago.
Eli’s favorite food in the garden is watermelons, even though “you have to really work to keep the weeds away in the beginning,” he says.
Eli spends most summer mornings working in the garden and then spends the heat of the day catching a nap or watching television. When the heat passes, he helps wash all of the produce picked in the morning. He works side by side with his Dad and usually accompanies him to the market on Saturdays. It sounds like hard work, but Eli says working with his Dad is “fun and challenging.”
“You know you have to pull your weight or it puts everyone behind a little bit.”
Eli Priest, 15, stands next to his Dad, Mark on their family farm, Coyote Farm in West Fork.
On this particular morning, Eli is in full swing after spending a few days in Oklahoma on a whirl-wind tour of college campuses. Eli, who will be a sophomore at West Fork High School this fall, was recruited by the University of Arkansas as part of the Educational Talent Search program. He is interested in becoming an Engineer.
Asked if farming has taught him any life lessons, he says, “I’ve learned nothing comes free. You always have to work to get what you want.” And that he does.
Coyote Farms grows a wide range of flowers and vegetables without the use of pesticides and can be found at the Fayetteville Farmer’s market every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.