In 1913, before the start of the first World War, seventeen-year-old Walter Ruzycki left his home country of Ukraine, seeking a better future. That future started with an eighty-acre plot of farmland in Jones, Oklahoma, that remains in the Ruzycki family today. Four generations later, after serving in the United States Navy, Michael Ruzycki set his sights and future back home in Jones.
“My great-grandfather’s land passed down to my grandfather. He and my grandmother, who is now 94 years old, kept it as a dairy farm, and they also had vegetables; I basically lived there during the summers. Back then, I didn’t really appreciate or understand the importance of the farm until after I came back home,” said Michael.
Michael’s grandfather had just passed away after arriving back in Jones, and he asked his grandmother if he could continue working the vegetable gardens, partly to help out his grandmother and partly because he was hungry.
“I was starting my own life and realized I didn’t have the food that I wanted and grew up on. My grandmother said, ‘you have to grow it,’ so that’s where it started.”
From farming out of necessity to inheriting the acreages he and his brother grew up on from their father, Michael and his brother ultimately split their father’s land in half. On his half of the land, Michael’s dream of farming his own land took hold. Clearing brush and the remains of their family home was the first step. What came next was reconnect ing with high school classmate, Emily. The two discovered they had the same entrepreneurial spirit and the love of growing vegetables. Their business dreams connected and within time, so did their love.
“People did not take us seriously when we started farming. We were young, and Michael had a twelve-inch high mohawk,” Emily Ruzycki laughs with Michael. “This June will be twelve years that we have been farming and also our anniversary. We were married in the middle of our first garden.”
When it comes to the holidays for the Ruzyckis, planning the next season is not the only thing keeping this family farm busy. Homemade Thanksgiving pies are a delight Emily takes on when the farm beds are wintering and Michael is sprouting seeds. Slow cooking apples and pumpkins from the farm, for her fruit-butters, are also a real treat during the season. The aromas of holiday spices mixed with caramelized fruit create holiday memories this family cherishes and their customers crave.
“There is always something to do with the farm… even during the holidays,” Michael smiles. “And thankfully, Emily picks up where I left off. We make a great team.”
This emphasizes what Emily told me at the beginning of this interview, “No one realizes the women of the farm, the farmer’s wives, hold it all together. They’d [the farmers] be lost without us.” For a woman who believed in Santa Claus until she was eighteen years old (true story according to Emily), I have full confidence in this farmer’s wife’s dedication to her farm and to her farmer.
Emily’s Butternut Squash and Bacon Soup is a favorite holiday dish on Ruzycki Farms. The butternut squash, of course, courtesy of the land they work.
Ruzycki Farms is a one-acre market farm that sits on five acres in Jones, Oklahoma
Serving local restaurants
We are a small family farm specializing in local organic vegetables. We serve a small community and provide for several local restaurants.
All organic, non-GMO seeds
Offering a C.S.A. subscription and a Hilltop Shop that's full of incredible goodies. The shop is open Friday through to Sunday.
Sustainable Agriculture Practices
In order to help us mitigate weed pressure, we use tarp and landscape fabric. This helps to reduce water loss and improve soil moisture.