Earth Notes
8:51 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Earth Notes: Durango's Family Farm

In a fertile Colorado valley 10 miles north of Durango lies the epitome of a family farm. 


Kay and Dave James bought the land 50 years ago so they could raise 5 children - and a herd of beef cattle.

James Ranch
James Ranch
Credit Earth Notes

Kay and Dave are in their 70's now. But 4 of their 5 children, now with their own families, have come back to the 450 acres of James Ranch to make their living through local agriculture.

Each business is its own distinct enterprise, but they overlap synergistically. A herd of dairy cows produce milk for 100% raw, grass-fed artisan cheese. The extra milk is sold to the public through an organic herd share program.

Whey, a cheese-making byproduct, is fed to the pigs who spend their lives outdoors in tall pasture before being sold as tasty cuts of pork.

Hundreds of laying chickens follow the cows, eating the larvae of pesky biting flies. Additional chickens roam the James Ranch tree farm, fertilizing the land and keeping weeds at bay.

2 acres are dedicated to organic fruit, vegetables and flowers. They're sold to the public through a CSA and at the Durango Farmers Market. The garden's overgrown squashes go to the pigs, and composted manure from the dairy cows is added to the gardens in spring.

At The Harvest Grill, on site, everything comes together. Here you can buy a fried egg sandwich, or a cheeseburger with a side salad, while gazing at the land and animals that made your meal possible.