Yogi and the Farmer provides fruits and vegetables to its shareholders and then sells the surplus at local farmers’ markets.
Yogi and the Farmer is an urban farming and community wellness initiative located in Covington. It offers a community-supported agriculture model of farming that allows shareholders who pay upfront to receive a weekly bag of fruits and vegetables during the 26-week growing season. It also offers free yoga, led by Jessica Starr, in the garden every Thursday at 7 p.m.
We asked Alexa Abner, the farm manager, five questions about Yogi and the Farmer.
Your farm is on a piece of vacant property in Covington?
Yes. For this season we are using one vacant lot that’s privately owned. For next season we have a lease with the city of Covington for two more vacant lots that we’ll start producing on next spring.
You’re a first-generation farmer, is that right?
Yes I am. So it just made sense to me that starting on a very small space—and when I say small each of these shotgun-style lots in Covington are about 1,200 square feet—I’m really trying to maximize the yield by using intensive growing practices and lots of succession plantings and just really being smart about what I choose to grow in this limited space.
How do you choose what fruits and vegetables to grow?
I try to work out what I would like each share to have and I like to have each share to have a diversity of five to seven different kinds of fruits and vegetables. So I choose season-appropriate vegetables—things that I know will produce during those weeks.
How did you get into this? Did you have any agriculture in your academic background?
I started studying chemistry at Northern Kentucky University and got kind of into the undergrad research realm there, but wasn’t feeling quite fulfilled with all of the lab work. I grew up kind of just exploring the woods and nature so being stuck in a lab all day wasn’t really my cup of tea.
So I actually kind of took a break from school when I had my son four years ago and when I decided to go back to school I switched gears, enrolled at UC and switched my focus to biology and ecology and took on more botany classes. When it was time to choose an internship opportunity I knew that I wanted to study at a small organic farm, mostly because I was interested in growing my own food, so that’s what I did.
I took that internship at Greensleeves Farm in Alexandria and absolutely fell in love with it.
What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
I guess this would be kind of interesting to most of my market customers and CSA members: I love to travel. They probably don’t realize this because they see me every week for this long season, but when I do get my couple of winter months off to do my planning and reorganizing I like to travel all over the world. I really want to try to get to Africa this winter.