The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.
Переклад цього матеріалу українською мовою з російської було автоматично здійснено сервісом Google Translate, без подальшого редагування тексту.
Bu məqalə Google Translate servisi vasitəsi ilə avtomatik olaraq rus dilindən azərbaycan dilinə tərcümə olunmuşdur. Bundan sonra mətn redaktə edilməmişdir.

'Students study my business model': how an immigrant from Russia created a successful farm in the USA

Oksana Bocharova is a professional agronomist and American farmer. In the USA, she realized her dream and started produce organic products in the state of Maryland. Oksana plans to open a restaurant on her farm for outgoing dinners. She told her story Voice of America.

Photo: video frame VOA

Our farm is located in Maryland, our small town is called Chestertown. A farmer in the USA is a person's way of life. Besides, it is also a business. When we have a farm, we not only grow something: we sell it, advertise it, that is, practically, it is the same business as everyone else.

The farm is very hard work. Farming on a small farm like mine where you yourself are physically involved is difficult, especially in our temperature and humidity. Thinking and planning my time is the key to my success.

Photo: video frame VOA

The whole area is 6,5 acres (2,6 ha). I produce environmentally friendly products, we do not use any chemical fertilizers, only biological ones. Our greenhouses are not glass, but film, they are not heated. The purpose of these structures is to extend the season. In our state, vegetables will grow in my greenhouse in winter: you can collect something and have an income.

Photo: video frame VOA

None of us ever dreamed of emigration and that we would find ourselves here and land. Everything was a matter of chance and circumstance, I did not think then and did not dream. I was born in the Belgorod region, in the village of Tomarovka - the former Soviet Union, now the Russian Federation. Love for agriculture, I think and feel so, was instilled in me by my father. My dad worked in agriculture all his life and often took me with him in the evenings when he went to see the crops. It seemed to me that he was doing something important and interesting. And I've always wanted to do the same. When I matured a little, for me the question of choosing a profession did not exist.

When I announced that I would go to study at an agricultural institute, which has always been under-prestigious and still remains, my parents were shocked. Especially when I said that I would study to be an agronomist - this was considered a male profession. But I wanted it - and I did it.

Photo: video frame VOA

My husband and I came to America in 1999. Reason: We needed to improve our financial situation at home a little. After the institutes, we decided that we knew everything and were able to, and decided to engage in individual farming. We tried for 7 years and nothing came of it, we got to the point where there was nothing to live on. We came under the "International Dairy Farming Program" - under this program people were placed in dairy farms, we had to work and thus gain experience in how milk production is going. We were paid $ 700 a month, which was just a lot of money at the time. By that time we already had two children, we had no time for jokes and needed to think about how to raise them, how to feed them.

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First, we were placed on a dairy farm in Wisconsin for 8 months, then we were transferred to Minnesota. We understood, of course, that we would not work there all our lives - because I am not a livestock breeder and never wanted to. In addition, it is very cold in Minnesota: you had to go outside at 3 o'clock in the morning, when the snow is knee-deep, and before you get to the calf, you have to clear the snow, and only then go and feed him. We started thinking about what else to do.

Photo: video frame VOA

We found work here in Maryland, not far from where I now have a farm. My husband Peter was hired to work as general manager, he worked for two years and decided to go to Russia and stayed there. And my children and I stayed here. With a program developed by the US government that helps people like me buy land: people with disadvantaged social status, women, novice farmers - people who do not have the means to take money from an ordinary bank. This had to be proved: bring a document from the bank, which will say that I will not receive a loan there, so I can be qualified for this program.

The maximum that could be taken was 300 thousand dollars. It was necessary to have more money to show in your business plan that there are funds for the purchase of a tractor, a car for transportation and trips to the market, and so on. 3-4 of the year, I saved money before everything came true. In 2013, I was able to buy a piece of land.

Photo: video frame VOA

To be successful, you need to have your own markets - sales channels. For me, these are farmers' markets, this is CSA (Local Community Farming Support Program). This program was simply created by some Americans who decided they wanted to give money to the farmer directly to support him. This is how people pay me for the season during the winter, but my duty is to provide them with a box of fresh vegetables every week. Our program lasts 24 weeks, from May to October. We do not deliver vegetables to everyone at home. I find some points where we bring several boxes at once, and people just come and pick them up.

Photo: video frame VOA

For me it is important what I produce. Quality products are the first thing we do here. When I first started, all the work was on me. Naturally, there were no such volumes. Now I have 5 seasonal assistants.

That year, when I bought the farm, I started souring cabbage and exporting it to the market. It began to give me some kind of income. The people liked it. I started with ordinary Russian cabbage, then I started adding spices, making kimchi. Now I have in the production of 9 different dairy products and 4-5 just pickled with vinegar.

Photo: video frame VOA

In order to be licensed to sell pickled foods, in Maryland you must rent a commercial kitchen with a license to serve people. At first, it was just me who was doing it, then my friends began to help, then sales went on, I started hiring people and it became easier. Almost everything we produce is sold within a week. We pack up what we produced last week, and produce what we pack up next.

Once I was sitting, looking at my house and thinking: there are 4 bedrooms, I live here alone. Is it possible to make this house also generate income? Immediately I met a friend who said that she was taking up Airbnb. At first I thought that no one would come to our zone. She advised me to try, assuming that I would be pleasantly surprised. I put up a one-bedroom ad - and in the first year I had the entire season booked on weekends. This was another way to generate additional income.

Photo: video frame VOA

We have chickens - they are only in our second year, and this year there are 142 of them. Last year we bought 50 - to try. The eggs started to sell well. There are few good quality eggs on the market, they are always in short supply and there is a great demand.

Photo: video frame VOA

My son comes to help with the markets - on Saturday and Sunday we have two big market days. We are bringing our products to Annapolis, where they already know us and have their own customers. This market is created only for manufacturers: it is not allowed to sell what you yourself have not produced. There is a commission that drives and checks this. Before they let me in here, they came to me and saw if I really did it myself.

Photo: video frame VOA

From time to time I receive requests from young farmers to show me how and what I do - my business model. For example, a group from a local college is coming today. Their manager finds my production a suitable model to show them. I always meet them with pleasure and tell them what I am doing. We farmers must be open to them, we must tell and teach. I had a case when a girl saw that we were digging potatoes and asked in amazement: “Does she really grow in the ground?” Therefore, I always try to show and tell everything so that people understand where what they eat comes from.

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Photo: video frame VOA

I think my farm is special. This is a small farm that generates income. This is a profitable farm. It is very important for me to show that a family that wants to live on a small plot and raise their children can be successful and make money. But not everything in life is measured by money; there are other advantages to living on a farm.

Children help me physically and mentally. I have a dream that, I hope, we will realize already with my children.

Photo: video frame VOA

The dream is to create off-site dinners on our farm, a small seasonal restaurant that will be different from others. What is in the garden today will be included in the menu. Everything will be very simple: a complex lunch from what was collected today.

Photo: video frame VOA

I was lucky in life: I never doubted which profession I wanted to choose, and never in my life I was disappointed in it, I did not look for myself in other industries. I understood that it was mine, I want it and will continue to do it.

Read also on ForumDaily:

How a Ukrainian family in Ohio feeds Americans homemade sausages

From janitor to head teacher: how a Ukrainian realized his American dream

Dumplings conquer America: 5 of the best restaurants of Ukrainian cuisine in the USA

'I like to work for people': success stories of Ukrainians who opened their own cafes in Ohio

Miscellaneous Our people Russians in the USA success stories our emigration
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