The Local Voice

Who’s Your Farmer?: Betsy Chapman, Yokna Bottoms Farm


Hometown: Oxford, adopted hometown since 2005

What brought you to the area? Oxford is a little Norman Rockwell, a little David Lynch. I like the dichotomy. Having moved a bunch of times as a kid, I wanted to settle down and raise my daughter in a nice, pretty, weird little Southern town.

Do you have any other jobs? Wife of Louis Bourgeois

How did you get started in agriculture? By following my interests. I discovered a weed-covered herb bed planted by previous residents of my apartment and I began tending it, turning it into a little found object sculpture garden. That began my love of organic home gardening, working outdoors, and interest in food justice, which eventually led me to my work on the farm.

What is a typical work day like? Harvest/market days are a hustle! Very busy, very challenging. We’ve got a deadline to meet and we’ve got to get thousands of pounds of food harvested, cleaned, packaged, and transported to market no matter how many crew members we have or what the weather’s like. Off days are a little more relaxed, still a lot to do: planting, cultivating, working in the greenhouse, restaurant sales, farm tours, etc.

What do you do on a rainy day? Get muddy! Unless there’s an electrical storm or a tornado, nothing stops us from harvesting and getting food into town on market days.

What’s the best thing about working on your farm? Eating! Having access to fresh, delicious seasonal vegetables, I’m constantly in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes.

What are you most proud of this year so far? Relationships I’ve built with my co-workers, volunteers, fellow farmers, CSA members, and other folks in the sustainability community.

What are you most looking forward to this season? A vacation!

Funniest / strangest thing that has happened on the farm lately: Pleading the fifth…

What’s your favorite vegetable? I love rutabagas and butter beans and cornbread.

What’s your favorite insect? Not an insect, but I love seeing big, fat earthworms doing their thing in the dirt.

What’s your favorite music to listen to while digging in the ground? We like farm/vegetable puns. So while we’re pulling beets we might sing: We Got the “Beet” or And the “Beet” Goes On…Another favorite: while we’re bagging lettuce: No Diggity (Got to Bag, Got to Bag It Up). We can get fairly silly sometimes…

Ever dug up (or found) anything strange / interesting / valuable? No, but somewhere out in the field are a pair of beloved Ray-Bans and a couple of iPhones.

Name an uncommon vegetable that people should try: Kohlrabi—can’t say enough about this really weird looking but delicious vegetable.

Tell us one thing about farming that most people probably don’t know: A lot of people say, “Oh, you work on a farm! That must be so peaceful.” That’s kind of a romantic view but in reality it’s just good, old-fashioned hard work. However, at the end of the day, it feels pretty satisfying to have pushed yourself really hard to get the job done.

Is there anything you’d like to see change about the way food is consumed in our community? I am happy to see access to locally grown food increasing, especially efforts to reach out to WIC and EBT recipients and welcoming those customers to shop at the farmers markets. I would like to see our community continuing in this direction—making good food accessible to all Oxonians!

Name one piece of equipment you could not live without: My notebook.

Tell us one thing you’ve learned that you didn’t know when you first started farming: How strong I am. I should’ve been a lady wrestler!

What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten? Taylor’s homemade ginger lemon curd with local blueberries and fresh whipped cream…my lunch today!  

Local Musician: Keith Fondren - a.k.a. Doc Prana
Welcome to Oxford - from Alderman Jay Hughes
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