An Interview with Thomas Dollahite,
Owner of Peculiar Farms and Europa Coffee
Best Farm, Greater New Mexico
Photos by Stephanie Cameron
Thomas Dollahite on the farm with his son and daughter.
Thomas Dollahite moved from archaeology to full time farming in 2011. Since that point, Peculiar Farms has produced everything from beef and eggs to vegetables and flowers. Most recently, with the addition of a café, Europa Coffee, customers have the opportunity to try Peculiar’s products within view of the farm.
How did you get to where you are now? What’s the backstory, and what was the moment that brought you to your current work?
I actually didn’t receive a degree in agriculture, but rather archaeology, and spent much of my time digging in the Middle East. But as my grandfather hit his mid-nineties, it was apparent that we needed to do something with the family farm. After considering various options, Peculiar Farms was born. It’s really my wife who took the farm to the next level by suggesting the café. The addition of a marketplace, event center, Airbnbs, playing and walking trails, and a honey room have only expanded the vision. These are all things we had talked about in the past but never thought could be realized on the property.
What is a local food issue that is important to you? Why?
I think diversity is a very important issue when it comes to the local food community. We have the opportunity to raise so many different types of vegetables and animals, and yet it seems that we tend to copy our neighbors most often. I’m excited by our expanding grassfed beef operation. We attempt every year to improve the flavor and quality of our beef through diversity in our varieties. With the introduction of our drip system a few years ago, it seems as though things are finally coming together to produce a product with which we are really satisfied.
What is the driving philosophy of your farm?
For me farming is an occupation as old as the Garden of Eden and was put in place as an opportunity to worship as we tend the ground. Although there was a fall and much carnage since Adam, we still have the blessed privilege of seeing the creativity and quality of God in farming and, for me, agriculture becomes an opportunity to enjoy not just the creation, but also the creator.
What was the best advice you received as a beginning farmer?
My grandfather, who farmed several hundred acres of produce annually, always said quality will allow your product to rise above all the competitors.
What is your favorite activity outside of the farm?
Our favorite activity outside of the farm is traveling to our property in Bulgaria and enjoying the farm life there in a very different environment. There is something wonderful about seeing farming occurring in a way that it has for thousands of years, as people still use and raise varieties that have been saved from generation to generation.
Tell us something surprising.
Something surprising might be that I feel much more like a failure than a hero. Each season there are so many things you want to do that don’t work out. Farming is hard work and the results are never guaranteed. A hopeful thing is there is always next year, and the peaceful thing is that whether it’s quantitatively successful, it’s still sanctifying. Perhaps the greatest thing to remember in the local food community is we are all only a small part of food production, both locally and internationally, and we should appreciate and celebrate the many wonderful strengths we see represented in the artists and farmers around us.
2105 NM-314, Los Lunas, 505-328-3874, foodfarmfestival.com
Edible celebrates New Mexico's food culture, season by season. We believe that knowing where our food comes from is a powerful thing. With our high-quality, aesthetically pleasing and informative publication, we inspire readers to support and celebrate the growers, producers, chefs, beverage and food artisans, and other food professionals in our community.