Laura Colligan

Redefining Rural” means more than defying the norms of a rural school district — it also means wholeheartedly embracing our local resources. Thanks to grants made possible by the United States Department of Agriculture and the New York Farm to School Institute, students from across the Springville-Griffith Institute Central School District are learning and experiencing agriculture in a number of unique and creative ways.

That includes a valuable partnership with local farmers who will be visiting elementary school classrooms to showcase their individual business. To celebrate this collaboration, SGI is proud to showcase the participating farmers who help make our community special.


Farming was not necessarily Laura Colligan’s family business.

 “My dad was an engineer and my mom was a lawyer,” said Colligan, co-owner of Dirt Rich Farm in Springville with her fiance Ryan Leggio. “I got interested in farming when I was a teenager, and after high school, I spent three years working on farms to learn how to be a farmer.”

 Using what she had learned, she started her own farm in her parents’ yard in East Aurora. A few years later, she needed more land to grow on, and relocated her farm and business to Springville-Boston Road.

 Colligan and Leggio have helped grow Dirt Rich into a well-known agricultural entity in the area, mostly due to its status as an organic vegetable farm, earning Certified Organic status in 2017 and Real Organic Project status in 2020 by the National Organic Program.

 “Organic is a way of farming that tries to mimic the natural world as much as possible,” Colligan said. “On my farm, I grow over 40 different kinds of vegetables and herbs, from amaranth and arugula through zucchini.”

 It has not come without its challenges.

 “With farming, there are so many things that are out of my control, like the weather and what pests (which are insects that hurt my plants) show up,” she said. “Sometimes, things go wrong even when you're trying really hard, and it's challenging not to feel discouraged when that happens.”

 But, the journey has been worth it.

 “I love being outside all the time,” she said. “I get to watch the season gradually unfold, day by day, and watch and listen to the birds and other animals around my farm.”