O'Sullivans learning together at Refuge Farm

Cameron and Emily O’Sullivan, who run Refuge Farm in Roebuck, didn’t set out to be farmers.

It just kind of happened.

“We say that farming kind of found us,” Cameron said. “We didn’t really go out looking to do it. It’s just something that kind of happened.”

The farm grew out of a medical situation, and hasn’t stopped growing yet.

“I was having some random health issues that we couldn’t find any answers for,” Emily said. “After about a year of going to different doctors and not having any satisfying answers, I started looking into more alternative answers. Through what we were reading and podcasts we were listening to, those led us to the idea of food as medicine. I really started to try to heal myself through my diet, and that led us to regenerative farming.

Regenerative farming, Cameron said, is based around the idea that “everything that we do is made to make the land better than we found it.  It’s about the way that we raise our animals, grow our produce, the things we do on the land, and how we manage the resources that we have.”

Refuge Farm offers meat chickens, pasture-raised chicken and duck eggs, and organically-raised produce. In addition, they’re a feed dealer for specialized Non-GMO feed, which the farm’s animals are raised on. They raise goats and sheep for the family’s enjoyment, but do sell off stock in the Spring. And they will soon add pastured pigs to their offerings.

Refuge Farm began selling to the public in March of 2020, and grocery store shortages and an increase in interest in a different way of shopping benefitted the operation.

“We try to do as much direct to consumer selling as we can,” Emily said. “We have a lot of customers who just come out to the farm. We’re in the process of turning the front of our barn into a farm store. We also do pop-up markets here and there, and we sell to a handful of retailers and restaurants.”

The O’Sullivans have found farming to be a natural fit.

“It was perfect for us,” Emily said. “We both have always loved animals, loved the land, and loved being outdoors. I’ve always been interested in food and diet, and it was really interesting. We kind of got hooked.”

The couple have enjoyed sharing the experience with their daughters, seven-year-old Mary Cameron and five-year-old Anna Kate.

“It’s taught them a lot of responsibility,” Emily said. “And they’ve learned a lot about where their food comes from, which is really cool.”

Cameron said the entire family has learned a lot.

“It’s definitely been a learning experience, but I think they enjoy it,” he said. “They’ve been exposed to a lot of things really early. It’s special fo us, too, because they get to be a part of things we enjoy, and we get to see them enjoy it. From things like riding horses and taking care of animals to helping me plant seeds and collect eggs, it’s just special that we get to do things together. And I think every kid was made for a farm.”