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A Better Way

04/29/2022 12:01 AM By Joshua
The Chews Letter
The Komyati Family
The Komyati Family
Story by Lisa Anderson • Photos by Joshua Jacobs

A Better Way

Organic Farmers Work Towards Self-Sustainability

Evan Komyati and his wife Rachel are both Florida-born and -raised—he from Bradenton, she from Ocala—but they come to food production from different directions. Evan went into the restaurant industry before going into college and went right back into it after graduation. He worked as a chef for 15 years, including in Tampa and Sarasota. 

Rachel’s path was a little more indirect. “I’ve always loved cooking, providing food for people. I’ve never worked professionally anywhere.” Her interest in farmers markets began when she was a new stay-at-home mother. “I just had to get out of the house, so I started doing a farmers market in Alabama, where we lived for a little while,” after they came back from traveling the world. She inquired as to what the Saturday market was missing; the answer was bread. “I started practicing and trying to provide more bread every week. I was working on yeast-leavened breads—sourdoughs and French baguettes—which were difficult. I’ve gotten the hang of it since,” she laughs. Evan chimes in, “There’s definitely a trick to it.”

The biggest “trick” the couple has worked hard to get the hang of is the balance between family and Kör Farm, the organic farm where they grow greens, bake bread, and conduct experiments with fruit trees, mushrooms, and bees. Evan, with his history in the kitchens, knew he could put in the long hours, but he wanted to be with his family. “You’re either married to the kitchens or married to your family. So, we were trying to find a better way...some different options.”

Circling Back

In 2017, the couple moved back to Rachel’s hometown to be near her parents and their extended family. “I never thought I would [come back]. Like, ‘I’m never moving back to Ocala,’ and here we are.” Her parents had six acres and allowed them to start gardening. Two years later, they partnered with a family, who owned an 80-acre horse farm, and established Kör Farm. The name was inspired by Evan’s Hungarian heritage: Kör means circle. 

Now expecting their third child, Rachel is grateful for the opportunity to raise her kids on a farm. “I just feel like they’re really well-rounded. They play in the dirt a lot [and] eat a lot of organic vegetables.”

Evan directly involves his oldest son Bodhi in farm work. “Bodhi is about to start kindergarten. I’ve been having him with me up on the farm. It’s been really, really nice. He’s a great foreman on every single project,” says the proud dad. “The amount he’s learned and the questions he’s asked—it feels good to know that he knows so much about plants and how they grow and how they work. When we do our bee work, he puts on a veil, and he’s right there with our instructor. He’s less nervous about it than any of us.” Mom is just as proud. “[Bodhi] loves teaching people, showing them the things he knows.”

Once Bodhi goes to school, Evan plans to do the same thing with their second child Jade, while Rachel takes care of their infant.
coffee design

On The Go

“It’s just go, go, go, always,” Rachel explains. “We’ve ramped up in the last two years.” Between the two of them, they vend at three farmers markets in the area: the Ocala Downtown Market on Saturdays, the Circle Square Farmers Market at On Top of the World on Thursdays, and in Gainesville. They have maxed out their capacity with just the two of them.

Rachel says their dream is to be able to sustain their community. “Our big goal is self-sustainability, not having to work for anybody, and also being able to provide for our families and friends.” She adds, “The need to not have to work for anybody has been very fruitful. We’ve learned about ourselves and our capabilities.”

Their partnership with Rainbow Rise Farm has given them more hands and more opportunities for growth. “In the next 10 years,” says Rachel, “we would like to have more events.” They want to host farm-to-table events and offer classes. Evan already teaches classes in the area, including at Santa Fe College in Gainesville. And they are learning themselves: “Older farmers come around and teach us.” 

Making it Work

But they know that they cannot keep up this blistering pace forever, nor do they want to. “We’re in a different place in our business,” Evan states. “Now, we need to learn how to ramp down things, because we have a lot of expectations from our customers. That’s not a bad thing. We have a very good customer base. We have a very high demand.”

Rachel agrees. “Eventually, our goal is to take summers off, because that’s what a lot of organic farmers do.” Florida gets too hot during the summer months for the products that they grow, such as greens, cut flowers, and tomatoes. “You can grow sweet potatoes and okra,” says Evan, but that is not their niche. Instead, they’ll focus on getting their 300-tree orchard up and running, along with their half-acre of blueberry bushes, not to mention the chickens.

It’s a “sink or swim type of thing,” Evan declares, referring to getting the balance right between what they need to do for the business and profit, versus their experiments and long-term goals. But their biggest priority is “making it work for our family.”
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