Oksana Bocharova, a native of the Belgorod region of Russia, inherited her love farming and nature from her father, Yuriy. He managed a large collective farm and would often bring her to the fields and teach her all that he knew about agriculture as he examined the crops. By the time she was seven, she knew she wanted to be a farmer.
Oksana earned a master’s in agronomy in 1992 and then worked as an agronomist and production manager on a 5,000-acre collective farm. At the same time, thanks to relaxed rules concerning land management, she and her husband leased 200 acres and produced vegetables, sugar beets and hay as well as raised pigs for markets nearby and in Moscow.
In 1997, Oksana graduated from AgroBusiness School in Moscow. In 1999, she and her family came to the United States through the University of Wisconsin’s Dairy Farm Training Program, through which she increased her knowledge of animal husbandry. But she longed to produce vegetables and was able to, eventually, move to Maryland and work on a certified organic farm in Anne Arundel County. This experience gave momentum to her dream of buying land and establishing her own farm for growing produce for markets and Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscribers as well as making and selling her own heritage varieties of fermented foods.
By 2013, that dream became a reality; she was able to secure a loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture under a program designed to help immigrants, women and beginning farmers to start their own farms. With strong support from family and friends, Oksana bought seven acres in historic Chestertown, MD, and began the process of cover-cropping to improve soil organic content and growing vegetables for local markets and her CSA subscribers. Her love for the land and her strict adherence to not using synthetics or genetically modified organisms can be observed—and tasted—in the quality of her fresh produce and fermented vegetables.