By Carol Mowdy Bond
Rita Payne Wiedemann and her husband Matt own Growing Paynes, and they’re moving fast these days. With her sister Kelli Payne and their dad Glenn Payne, they collectively work the family’s 700 acres in southern Canadian County. And this month, the Wiedemanns took their work load to a whole new level.
Rita and Matt own Growing Paynes, which became an official agritourism business in May 2017.
But Growing Paynes took flight this year on October 10. That’s when the Wiedemanns held their first ever fall festival. A former nurse, Rita said, “Over 800 people came. We had 28 vendors who sold their local handcrafted goods, and they said their sales were very good. We also had five food trucks, and Cold Creek Winery of Tuttle was here. Admission was $5 for those 11 and over. And we had live music. We had four musicians throughout the day in two hour intervals. I sold all our pumpkins. I think maybe I have 10 left.”
The Wiedemanns are planning to have their fall festival every year. Rita said they’ll probably hold it again on October 9, 2021.
“In about 2013, my daughter and I started selling produce at the end of Mustang Road,” Rita said. “I didn’t think people would drive down here to our land to buy produce. But I was wrong. So we transferred here to our property.”
On the Payne property, there are innumerable scenic locations. “Photographers pay per day to take photographs here,” Rita said.
In 2017, the Wiedemanns built the nursery tunnels. They have two 24 feet by 120 feet greenhouse tunnels, and one 3 feet by 60 feet tunnel. And Rita grows all kinds of produce, selling whatever is in season. Starting each April, Rita offers U Pick Strawberries. “We sell by the pound, and we supply the baskets,” Rita said. “People come out and pick our strawberries.”
“Now I’ll start my winter crops in a few weeks,” said Rita. “I’ll plant lettuce, beets, spinach, turnips, spring flowers, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and onions.”
Rita also opened a store on the property, and sells produce there when she has produce available. The store is located in the old dairy barn, which is a historic building. “It’s been very successful. Next year we’ll have more hours for people to shop in our store,” said Rita.
Rita’s great-great-grandparents made the Land Run of 1889, staking a claim in today’s Canadian County. The original claim grew into 700 acres that the family now collectively owns and works.
Kelli Payne, Rita’s sister, became the sixth and first female general manager of the Oklahoma National Stockyards, the world’s largest stocker and feeder cattle market, in April 2019. Kelli and dad Glenn are cow-calf producers, with their herd on the family land.
“So far our agritourism business has been successful.” said Rita. “Now our 19-year-old daughter Bailey has begun her own farming project here. She’s the sixth generation of our family to work our land.”
Rita works on the farm 365 days a year. “This is all I’ve ever known. It’s how we were raised. Produce is my baby.”
Connect with Growing Paynes on Instagram and Facebook.