Spanish Salt project celebrates local farming families

spanish salt
The Christensen Farm. Ken and his son Lyle are 5th generation Spanish Fork farmers from Iceland. From the Spanish Salt collection. Photo: Sean Diediker

Good men and women who work the land and pass it down for generations are commonly called, “the salt of the earth.” Spanish Fork artist Sean Diediker aims to preserve their stories and celebrate their way of life with his new project, “Spanish Salt.”

Diediker described the project saying, “I want to document those that were here long before the Walmart’s and fast food chains. Those who can’t recall the original color of their boots. Those who take pride in growing on their own land and successfully pass that mantle on to their children. Those that simply won’t sell.

“It was disheartening to see the “future subdivision” signs recently go up in our beloved river bottoms, and I fear it’s only a matter of time until we become just like every other strip mall suburb. My hat is off to those farmers who stand bold, and guard us from that seeming inevitable fate. You are the Salt.”

Spanish Salt will consist of a series of artistic photographs by Diediker of multigenerational farming and ranching families and a write-up of their stories by his partner Jessica Crandall. The couple is looking for families to feature in the collection.

When Diediker presented his idea, Crandall says she loved it and wanted to get onboard right away. Crandall grew up in Spanish Fork and her family goes back generations in the area on both sides. “I’ve always loved it,” she said. “I lived away for 12 years and it’s been nice to come back.” While Diediker will take the portraits, Crandall will interview the families to tell their story.

Diediker is an artist who uses travel as his inspiration, creating paintings based on his experiences in the places he visits. “But I’ve never done anything to celebrate this region,” he said. Diediker goes walking in the river bottoms daily. “It’s my meditation,” he said. Over time he’s noticed the bluffs around Spanish Fork and now the river bottoms growing smaller and smaller. He wants to celebrate the people who work the land before it’s gone.

“This is their heritage. They’ve worked this land since they got here and passed this on to their kids,” he said. Diediker called the project “a time capsule for future generations.” When the collection is finished, the Diediker and Crandall will put on a local exhibit. The families, though, will always have the story and photo to share with their children and grandchildren.

Growing up in Southern California, Diediker watched the farmland in that area disappear and knows it will someday be gone in Spanish Fork as well. He wants to document the people who work the land while they’re still there. “Once it’s gone, it never gets back to that virginal land,” he said. “Celebrate it while it’s here because once it’s gone, you can’t get it back.”

If you, or someone you know, are multigenerational farmers or ranchers who would be interested in participating in “Spanish Salt”, please contact seandiediker@gmail.com.