Plowing tractor

Stephen Tyler, co-owner of the Highland Harvest Barn strawberry patch in Highland, used this tractor to plow nine inch elevated zanjas, ditches, to plant strawberries on his farm. The farm was located near Boulder and Greenspot Road, in Highland.

Last week, we found out about the Highland Harvest Barn Strawberry Patch in Highland and Matt Tyler.

Stephen Tyler, Matt’s father, and Dave Eady purchased the property where Matt grew up worked, as a young boy.

Tyler is proud of his son and reflects on how hard Matt worked on the farm.

“Matt was working on the farm since he was seven years old,” said Stephen. “He was hands-on, every day. He worked like a horse. Matt would drive the stakes for the tomatoes and weeded. All of my children worked on the farm.”

The Tylers initially farmed onions and strawberries.

“Later, we tried black eyed peas, corn and tomatoes,” said Stephen. “The tomatoes were the best crops.”

The crops that were grown were sold to Marie Callender’s restaurant, markets in Nevada, and local warehouses and restaurants.

“People would buy strawberries in bulk,” said Stephen. “We sold habanero chili, strawberries and the other vegetables at our fruit stand, in Highland. The three oldest children sold fruit at the stand with my wife and their aunt.”

Matt and his father both agree that their experiences on the farm provided the Tyler children a chance to learn skills that they would use later in life.

“It was good for the children to work in the fields. It was rewarding for them,” said Stephen. “Sometimes we’d get up at five in the morning and turn on the sprinklers.”

As mentioned in previous stories, the Tylers had several tractors that were the main work horses on the farm.

The children and the Nationals, however, did the brunt of the manual labor that produced the actual crops.

“We would use the tractors to cut the rows,” said Stephen. “The tractor would create a zanja (ditch) that was elevated around nine inches. We’d then wrap the rows in plastic.

“The tractor would punch holes in the plastic, and the boys would put the strawberry starter plant in the hole.”

Tyler was proud how his children would work the farm.

“They could plant faster than anybody I know. They could even plant faster than the workers we hired. They built a lot of endurance planting in 105-degree weather.”

Matt played soccer, basketball and track and field. He won many awards playing sports.

Matt attended Arroyo Verde, Clement Middle School and Redlands East Valley High.

Matt and his siblings helped in boxing and crating up the produce, according to Stephen.

Stephen believes that the work that his children did on the farm helped them be successful in school and in life.

“Really, looking back, it was a wonderful learning experience for them to plant, weed, pick and sell fruit and vegetables.”

“Regarding the farm, as difficult as it was, there wasn’t much opportunity for youth to find work until the age of 16,” said Stephen. “The farm gave them an opportunity to work, learn and be with their family.”

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