Self-sufficiency is the humble aspiration of Sara and Tom Buscaglia, owners of RAS Farm.
Both grew up in Midwestern suburbs, neither one with a farming background. After meeting in Durango in 1998, they decided to grow a large, organic vegetable garden. Ending up with more produce than the two of them could eat, they brought the surplus to the last few farmers markets that season and were smitten with the idea of sharing their food with others. Although they realized it was hard work, they enjoyed it and decided to grow bigger the next year.
By spring 1999, they were farming on two acres of borrowed land. Grateful to be given land to use, they continued to hone their farming skills until 2005, when they had saved up enough money to put a down payment on their own farm near Sunnyside. Now, with four children, life on the farm is busy indeed.
The Buscaglias raise seasonal, organic vegetables; sheep for wool that Sara spins and dyes herself, then weaves or knits into warm creations for the family to wear. Clothes for the baby are homemade. Dairy goats provide their family with fresh milk. They also have laying hens, and sell eggs whenever the hens provide more than their family can eat. The children are home-schooled and are active participants in farm work.
At the farm, only organic growing methods are used. In the fall, homemade compost is spread over the fields, and a cover crop of winter wheat is planted. In the spring, they till the cover crop into the soil. This helps prevent wind erosion and adds good organic matter to the soil.
"You cannot grow food with much nutritional value if you are constantly taking from the soil, and not also giving," said Sara Buscaglia.
RAS Farm produce can be found at the Durango Farmers Markets, Durango Natural Foods, Cyprus Café and Bread. They also have a busy CSA every year.
The Community Supported Agriculture program allows customers to invest ahead of the harvest season, assuring themselves regular produce and providing the farmer with a financial base from which to grow that season.
Sara Buscaglia said the most challenging part of farming is keeping up with all the work.
"In the summer we are planting, weeding, harvesting and selling our produce," she said. "We are always wishing there were a few extra hours in each day."
If the amount of work is the challenge, then the balance is the sweet abundance of life on the farm.
"We still get excited each spring when our first plantings come up out of the soil, and the baby animals are being born," she said. "An organic, family-run farm is such a great place for children to grow up and learn. We are happy we can earn a living working right here on our land, doing what we love, with our kids by our side."
Reach Sara and Tom Buscaglia at firstname.lastname@example.org and find photos of the farm on Sara Buscaglia's blog: farmama.typepad.com.
Marje Cristol owns Linnaea Farm in Durango and sells cut flowers and goat-milk cheeses. She also serves on the Durango Farmers Market board. Reach her at 946-2712 or marje@LinnaeaFarm.com.