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Black Island Farms owner, conservationist Charles Black was a Utah agricultural leader

Published July 9, 2013 12:27 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A funeral has been set Wednesday for Charles F. Black, Jr. of Layton, the owner of Black Island Farms in Syracuse, known for its fresh vegetables, fall harvest festival that attracted thousands of people each year and field trips for schoolchildren. He died in a one-car accident on July 6. He was 75.

"Charlie was a leader in Utah agriculture and his dedication to the land and to farming will be missed," said Agricultural Commissioner Leonard Blackham. "Charlie was passionate about teaching the next generation about farming and often took bus loads of schoolchildren into the fields to show them where their food comes from."

Family members will continue to operate the well-known farm.

As homes took over the area and surrounded his farm, Black worked with the Utah Quality Growth Commission, The Nature Conservancy and the Utah Department of Agriculture in 2000 to place a conservation easement on a portion of his property, which harbors critical wetlands habitat.

"We got some money from the conservation easement to retire some debt, but most importantly, I want my grandchildren to know that this land will be protected forever," Black had said. "We can do everything we need to do to keep the farm profitable — we can improve the land, build fences and corrals. The only thing we can't do is build homes."

He also spoke out when the Utah Legislature declined to fund the voluntary LeRay McAlister program to keep other working farms intact.

"I understand that not everything can be funded in tight economic times, but it's shortsighted in the long term when you can't save farmlands," Black had said. "With agriculture, you've one chance to save the land, because when it's gone, it's lost forever."

He also was known for giving many teenagers their first job, putting them to work tilling the fields.

"He realized the great contributions agriculture makes to society with food, but even greater, in building character," said Utah Farm Bureau President Leland Hogan. "This was evident by Charlie's working with all kinds of youth on his farm, working with them to build these young people into productive members of society. He has left an enduring legacy upon his community and family. Charlie will be missed by many throughout Utah."

Black was born April 7, 1938, in Bountiful to Charles and Marrietta Olsen Black. He graduated from Davis High School and served four years in the U.S. Army before graduating from Utah State University in 1964 with a degree in agricultural science. He worked at Condies Foods with his father and two brothers before establishing his own farm.

He served on Weber Basin Board, Davis Hospital Board, Davis County Planning Commission, Layton Canal Company and the National Onion Association. He also served in the Westminster Presbyterian Church.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Marta McClure Black, and his daughter and son-in-law Dorathy and Brandon Law, who operate the farm, and his son and daughter-in-law Richard Call and Joni Black, five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and his brothers Gary and Bruce Black.

Funeral service will be at 2 p.m. on Wednesday at Lindquist's Layton Mortuary, 1867 N. Fairfield Road. Friends may visit with family on Tuesday from 5 to 8 p.m. and Wednesday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the mortuary.