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Ty Evans: The great pumpkin grower’s legacy

Your alarm wakes you from a deep sleep at 5 a.m. You rise knowing dogs, horses, sheep, and cattle need to be fed. Still half asleep, you function on autopilot since you’ve been following a similar routine of farm chores since the moment you were able to pull on your own Wrangler jeans.

Welcome to Ty Evans’ life on his family’s ranch a little way outside of Morro Bay. Ty’s parents, Jodi and Brian Evans are part of a multigenerational farm family. Much like my neighbors, the Garcia and the Jones families, these rugged individuals continue to live out a legacy that helped develop and improve this exceptional area in which we live.

I asked Ty if his younger brother, Chance (age 13), helped him out with his chores. “He’s not much help; he’s lazy like me.”

Ty’s bright blue eyes held a mischievous glint as he dissed his brother. With his short-cropped red hair and easy smile, I could tell he was kidding. Clearly, the two brothers worked hard together on this 200-acre ranch, yet were not averse to teasing one another.

Their mother, Jodi, teaches Agriculture classes at San Luis Obispo High School, and I recently spoke with retired Cal Poly professor Joe Sabol about her. “Jodi Evans is the one of the best Ag teachers in the county, and I could talk about her for days. She is that talented!”

Brian Evans graduated from Morro Bay High and proceeded to Cal Poly where he earned his degree in agricultural business. Today, he grows avocados and oat hay and raises cattle.

“In 2006, when Ty was around 4 years old, I heard about this pumpkin contest put on by Farm Supply. I read a few articles about pumpkins, so I thought I’d give it a try. It was a crazy idea, but using a tractor, I dug a big hole and dumped in a bunch of cow manure and covered it up and planted some seeds Joe Sabol may have given me. That first year, we won the contest and Ty has enthusiastically taken over ever since.”

“Where did you find the right seeds?” I asked.

Jodi chimed in and explained how growing large pumpkins takes a secret source. Brian admitted he’d one time paid up to $40 for a single seed.

Ty spoke proudly about his grandfather (Dr. Evans). He shared how part of the family ranch was sold off years ago; it’s not easy being a farmer nowadays. It takes an entire extended family to pull it off.

At this point, I should have recognized the Evans name because Brian mentioned that his dad was a long time large animal veterinarian. Well, several years ago, I met Dr. Evans under dire circumstances when my own horse, Sugar, injured herself. With a serious chest wound and bleeding profusely, Dr. Evans was called. He came quickly, although as Sugar’s warm blood seeped through my fingers despite the direct pressure, it seemed like forever. Soon, Brian’s father, Gary Evans, stitched up Sugar as I absentmindedly mopped up the bright red puddle on the floor between Sugar’s front legs. She was shaking, probably going into shock due to the loss of blood, but Dr. Evans remained cool and professional as he gave her a shot and applied antiseptic to the wound. Such is the familial roots of the Evans family. They tend to be there when you need them.

Ty’s dad explained how Ty took an interest in growing pumpkins early on when he was just a toddler and would ride on his dad’s lap on the tractor learning to help out in any way possible. As he grew, he continued to experiment with pumpkin growing. He has won the contest several times and taken second place once. These early experiences led to Ty’s interest in growing giant pumpkins and other eclectic species such as Dragon Fruit. As Ty grew older, schoolwork and sports took up much of his time; still, chores needed to be done first—early, at dusk, so the days became long.

Eventually, Ty became most interested in football and wrestling.

“Wrestling is his main love,” said his dad. Ty nodded with a smile.

Brandon Drucker, one of Ty’s wrestling coaches, remarked, “Ty’s work ethic is exceptional. He doesn’t even realize yet how good he can be. His off-season work and wrestling camp (during the summer) in Oregon grew his skills greatly. I see him qualifying for State CIF this coming year. Last year, he made it to the Masters level, so Kyle Harmon (head coach and Chemistry teacher at SLOHS) and I are proud to have him return as captain of our varsity wrestling team.”

Also, I learned Ty is not afraid to get his hands dirty mechanically. He restored a 1947 International Harvester tractor with a friend of his—Kevin Jess (currently a freshman at Cornell University). The two of them spent around 500 hours, $2500, plus $3,000 that was donated and approximately $1,000 worth of parts taken off of a twin tractor they found in an old barn that wasn’t running. The restoration included new paint, fabrication, new wheels, tires, and many other items. “One of these days, I plan to drive it through the Taco Bell drive-through in town,” Ty remarked looking at his dad as the two of them laughed—sharing the private joke.

A bit later, I spoke with Cara Crye who also comes from a multigenerational local family. Her mother Bernadette, father Ed, and brother David have owned construction companies for decades. Cara’s knowledge, expertise, and outstanding reputation is well known. She is currently President/CEO of the Farm Supply Company, and she graciously shared the following about Ty.

“I’ve known Ty and his family for many years, and it’s been an absolute honor to watch Ty become the amazing young man he is today. Thanks to the solid foundation his family helped build under him, he will continue to be successful throughout his entire life. Just imagine, Ty grew up around agriculture where his mom was his agriculture instructor. Jodi and Brian instilled in him and his brother fundamental virtues such as integrity, loyalty, and a strong work ethic. What fun it was witnessing Ty grow award-winning giant pumpkins for the Farm Supply Contests for over ten years. Farm Supply remains one of the original sponsors and contest organizer for 12 of the past 14 years. The Pumpkin Contest is one of our best ways to bring agriculture downtown and into the community.”

Cara also shared that this year’s contest is Thursday, October 17th from 4-7 pm at the Mission Plaza, downtown SLO. Just picture it; Cara Crye and Farm Supply—it will be a fun time for the family and the giant pumpkins will be on display; don’t miss it! Plus, Ty will be there as well.

The Evans family and other long-time agricultural and construction families fed and helped build our community for decades. Their blood, sweat, and tears have watered the hallowed ground here for generations. Our community is a better place because of them.

Ty Evans isn’t sure yet where he will attend college; however, there is a good chance he will excel at any school he chooses. Hopefully, when he is done, he will return to his roots and carry on his family’s legacy.



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