Western Nevada County has lost a major contributor to its agricultural vitality.
Bob Keyser, 56, better known as Farmer Bob, owner of Farmer Bob’s produce stand in Grass Valley, died of an apparent heart attack on Saturday afternoon.
He was helping a customer load a Christmas tree onto a vehicle when he abruptly passed out, said Steven Sears, his childhood friend. An employee at the produce stand, located behind The Union office off Sutton Way at the end of Olympia Park Circle, performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
The emergency responders were unable to resuscitate him, Sears said.
Paul Keyser, Bob Keyser’s older brother, said his brother was in relatively good physical condition and his death came as a complete shock. Farmer Bob was an avid bicycle rider and a member of the Sierra Express Bicycle Club in Nevada City.
“He lived a good life,” his brother said. “He was active in his church.”
Bob Keyser’s family and close friends gathered at his produce stand around noon on Sunday in an effort to continue the business that was Farmer Bob’s passion.
“It’s good, clean living,” Farmer Bob told The Union in 2009.
The Keyser family came to Nevada County by way of Michigan in 1962. It was then that Steven Sears and his family met the Keysers, forging a lifelong bond between the two families.
Bob Keyser graduated from Nevada Union High School and briefly worked in the oil industry before switching to agriculture.
It entailed less chemicals, was safer for workers and tasted better, Bob Keyser told The Union in a previous interview.
Farmer Bob managed a farm in Gridley, and once the harvest began, he also managed the produce stand in Grass Valley.
“My brother was a good manager,” Paul Keyser said. “He knew where the good produce was.”
The stand was stocked with organic fruits and vegetables — Asian pears, honey and distinctive heirloom tomatoes in the summer, gourds and pumpkins in the autumn and Christmas trees in the winter.
The produce stand is currently stocked with a variety of Christmas trees.
Sears said family and friends will continue to keep the produce lot open.
“We just hope that people will buy these trees so we can fulfill Bob’s financial obligations and keep this service to the community going, because that is what Bob would’ve wanted,” Sears said.
Farmer Bob donated pumpkins for community events, gave Christmas trees to the indigent and gave his famed tomatoes to the Nevada County Food Bank and the Interfaith Food Ministry.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.