The Lasley family has grown peanuts in Oklahoma for more than 80 years, building a lasting legacy as they continue to contribute to the Sooner State’s annual production of 50 to 70 million pounds of peanuts.
Since its inception, the family-owned operation has evolved to produce a variety of value-added products that are enjoyed by people across the state – including their popular peanut brittle, made from a secret family recipe. Today the Lasley Family Farm is poised for even more growth and success.
A Firm Foundation
The Lasley operation began with George and Alma Lasley. They began growing peanuts in Caddo County in 1936. The couple, along with their son, Esthel, and his wife, Zelma, contracted with the Oklahoma Crop Improvement Association in 1956 to raise foundation peanut seed for Oklahoma Foundation Seed Stocks Inc. (OFSS). The following year, the Lasleys bought a peanut sheller and began shelling seed for the OFSS – a successful endeavor that continues today.
However, the federal peanut subsidy program changed in 2001, resulting in significant price drops for foundation seed and lower demand for the product. Third-generation peanut grower Loyd Lasley (George’s grandson and Esthel’s son) realized the Lasley Family Farm needed to diversity in order to survive, and then he explored the idea of developing value-added products.
“I remember helping load semi-trucks with our peanuts when I was teenager, and I asked where they were going,” Loyd says. “I found out they were going to the Mars candy company. That intrigued me, and I wondered how my family and I could connect with consumers in a similar way.”
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Shortly thereafter, Loyd enrolled in Basic Training at Oklahoma State University’s Robert M. Kerr Food & Agricultural Products Center, which is designed for food business entrepreneurs interested in learning more about business planning, market identification, strategies and food processing regulations. Loyd went on to sell raw shelled peanuts at the OSU-OKC Farmers Market in Oklahoma City in 2002, and it was there he met a coffee-bean roaster who helped change the course of his family’s business forever.
“My dad and I bought an old coffee-bean roaster from the gentleman I met at the market and decided we were going to use it to roast our peanuts, and we still use it today,” he says. “Next, we bought a blancher that removes the red skin from the peanuts after they’re roasted and built what we call the ‘peanut kitchen’ in my grandparents’ house, and we began making some of the varieties we still sell. My mom also got involved, making sugar-coated toasted peanuts, and she developed a recipe that we continue to use for peanut brittle.”
A Thriving Farm
Today, the Lasley Family Farm grows Spanish peanuts on 130 acres in Eakly, yielding approximately 4,700 pounds of peanuts per acre. Additionally, the operation continues to grow foundation seed for OFSS.
Along with offering raw Spanish peanuts, Lasley Family Farm produces roasted and salted, hot and spicy, and After Five varieties. They offer sweet treats like peanut brittle, white peanut clusters, chocolate peanut clusters, sweet crunchy peanuts and cinnamon crunchy peanuts. These value-added products are available across the state at convenience stores, grocery stores, farmer co-ops and specialty shops, as well as online at lasleypeanuts.com.
“Selling directly to consumers has been a wonderful experience, and I think they appreciate that our products are 100% Oklahoma grown and produced,” Loyd says. “It also means a lot to me to be able to carry on my family’s business and to work with my mother, two older brothers and younger sister. It’s certainly not something I take for granted, and I hope to see our operation continue for years to come.”