Yolanda Burrell is a farmer and beekeeper on Kosodate Farms, a half-acre urban family farm in Oakland, California. Yolanda has a long history with farming. She grew up on a one-acre farm about 60 miles north of Oakland in Santa Rosa, where her parents emphasized the importance of knowing the origin of one’s food. Though her parents farmed with chemicals, when she started Kosodate Farms, Yolanda chose to employ sustainable methods to grow vegetables, herbs and fruit.
Yolanda’s agroecological practices include grey water recycling, beekeeping, composting and a variety of pest management techniques, including mechanical traps and neem oil.
Her mechanical traps are colored or scented sticky papers placed on tree trunks or attached to stakes. The color or scent attracts the insects, and the sticky substance traps them. Neem oil is a naturally occurring pesticide from the seeds of the neem tree that can be sprayed on plants without harming them. Yolanda uses these techniques to manage unwanted insects at Kosodate, including scale insects (an order of insect that parasitizes plants and feeds on their sap) and citrus leaf miners (a moth that feeds on young leaves).
Yolanda maintains a vibrant homestead where she and her family produce much of their own food, all without the use of chemicals. She is also co-founder with master gardener Brigit Evans of Pollinate Farm & Garden, a general store in Oakland that offers supplies for and workshops on organic farming and gardening, beekeeping and small animal husbandry.
Photos: Lori Eanes | Backyardsrootsbook.com & Yolanda Burell