If you stop by Saja Farm, you might feel as though you stepped back in time a few decades, back to a simpler time when folks bought their fruits and vegetables from the local farm and were able to chat with the farmer about the weather, the current crop and how the family’s doing.
That’s exactly how Caroline Zuk wants you to feel.
Caroline has owned the 56-acre farm at 403 Parker Road since 2010, when her aunt, Helen Saja-Miller, passed away, leaving the land to her.
“Nobody knew what was going to happen,” Caroline says. “I grew up in this barn. There was always something going on, and all of a sudden it was silent.”
She had moved from her hometown of Dracut to Portsmouth, N.H., in 1995, and she and her husband adopted three children from South Korea, but found herself drawn back to Dracut with her aunt’s final wish.
“What do you do with a 56-acre farm?” she says. “I’d always known how to run a tractor, but my aunt wanted me to keep it as a working farm.”
She did what anyone in her position would do. She sought help from the queen of Dracut farming, Helen Dunlap, owner of Dunlap Farm at 430 Marsh Hill Road.
“We sat down and scratched out a plan,” Caroline says.
Twelve years later, things are still going according to plan. Caroline brought on her cousin, John Grzeski, who, she claims, is “the only one in the United States who can grow corn this good.” (Dracut Economic Development can attest to that.)
Caroline’s grandparents purchased the farm in 1915 for $1,500 after coming over from Poland.
“My grandmother wanted a place that looked like Poland,” she says.
Caroline is the third generation, and her children, who work on the farm, represent the fourth.
“We’re still using the same tilling and planting methods my grandparents used,” she says.
Of course, Dracut has more than a dozen working farms. Caroline believes what sets Saja apart from the rest is that feeling of getting “a glimpse of an era gone by.”
“I had a customer who came in and said it reminded her of growing up in Maine 20 years ago,” she says. “I just love that.”
And she’s already thinking about the time when she won’t be able to run the farm.
“I really want this land preserved,” she says. “It’s virgin land. It’s a perfect backdrop for sustainability.”
And what the farm doesn’t produce itself Caroline buys from other family operations. She sells jams made by the Amish in Ohio, barbecue sauces made by a family in North Carolina, apples from Carlson Orchards in Harvard, eggs from a farm in Bedford – even milk produced at Dracut’s own Shaw Farm.
“I’m promoting an all-family feel. This is my claim to fame,” she says.
And along those lines, she is currently producing a coloring book for children with a story based on companion planning, or “how plants get along,” Caroline says.
For more information, call Saja Farm at 978-454-7252 or visit facebook.com/SajaFarms.