Joseph Griego was raised on a family farm where he participated in everything from collecting eggs, milking the cow, and making cheese and butter, to butchering animals on the farm. Since 2008, he and his wife, Ruth Ann, have been homesteading once again with their four boys, Castillo, Ronald, Joseph Paul, and Dakota Joe, raising livestock and crops at Ranchito Organic Farm in Mora, New Mexico. This homestead is different than the family farm where Joseph was raised because Joseph and Ruth Ann are using only holistic and organic practices.
While Ranchito Organic Farm comprises only two-acre of their 36-acre property, the operation is highly diverse and includes gardens, an orchard, a greenhouse, a chicken coop for AWA-certified laying hens, bee hives, and a small herd of AWA-certified dairy goats. The land was formerly a convent where nuns operated a dairy and had a large orchard. As well as selling excess produce to their local community, Joseph and Ruth Ann are developing the farm as a learning space where others can observe just how much food can be produced on a small piece of land in order to be self-sustaining.
Joseph and Ruth Ann chose to pursue AWA certification because the standards reflected the high-welfare practices they already had in place. Raising animals outdoors on pasture or range has benefits for the animals, people and the environment, and the Griegos consider their animals an extension of the family. “We hope that by getting certified it would motivate our local ranchers and farmers to consider following these same practices,” says Joseph. In addition to their high-welfare practices, the rare and endangered breeds they raise were important in their decision making, helping to ensure these old breeds stay in existence.
With so much happening in so little space, the Griegos produce far more than they can consume and the excess is sold to a local food cooperative. “By no means are we getting rich off of the livestock we raise, but their sales help to maintain our small working farm and, at the same time, provide us with a healthy way of eating and living,” says Joseph. “Our long-term farming goals are to be able to do this full time, or should I say stop working for someone else and do something we truly enjoy and something we are more than good at.”
AWA-certified eggs and goat dairy products from Ranchito Organic Farm are available in the Mora area, New Mexico. For more information about the farm, contact Joseph and Ruth Ann at email@example.com or (505) 617-7007.