Ramsi Kamar, owner of Ramsi’s Café on the World in the Highlands, admits that when he starts talking about the 16-acre organic farm he’s developing in Fisherville, he sounds like a farming evangelist, or a “born again farmer.”
“The story of farming is that of love,” he said from a table in his restaurant, which has been a staple in the Louisville dining scene for 20 years.
“It’s a romantic story of connecting to everything around us, even the smallest creatures you don’t see to the divine, and seeing how we connect and how we fit in.”
He and his wife, Rhona Kamar, have owned the land for 12 years, but just two years ago began bringing the once-empty field into year-round production of herbs, vegetables, apples, pears, cherries, chickens and goats.
In the future, they also plan to have fish, sheep and honey, among other staples. The whole operation is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Their vision is to make much of the food they produce available on the menu at Ramsi’s. So there will be organic options, which might cost more, in with their eclectic mix of world-fusion dishes.
For example, they currently offer Enchiladas Suiza, touted as being made from organic chickens raised on the farm, for $13.95. Rhona Kamar said patrons can expect to see more offerings like it in the future.
“Everything we’ve done is to give people more options, and organics is a part of that.”
They’ve opted to not go wholly organic because it would be difficult to produce the quantity needed for some items – and because it would change their prices and, in turn, their clientele, she said.
“And we’re not interested in that at all.”
Ramsi’s, by design, is meant to be a place where everyone can find something at a price they’re comfortable with, Rhona Kamar said. They want to keep it that way.
Offering organic food is another way to promote the restaurant, Rhona said.
But it is also about health, sustainability and food justice. Those values have changed the way they do other parts of their business as well. They’ve done away with Styrofoam and are taking all the biodegradable waste to the farm for composting.
“Once we created the vision, our whole lives needed to align with it,” Rhona said.
For them, it was also a return to a lifestyle they both care for deeply. Rhona grew up in a farming family in Green County, Ky. Ramsi is from the Old City of Jerusalem where his family has owned the same home for 500 years.
In his culture, he said, land, and the life that’s on it, means everything.
“For me, land was always sacred,” he said. “I’m almost in tears every time I touch the soil. It’s not just the land to me.”
In years to come, the Kamars hope to host camps for local youth so they too can experience farming.
That’s important, they said, because as Jefferson County’s exurban areas are increasingly developed, there are fewer working farms left where kids can learn.
Their own farm abuts Shakes Run, a burgeoning subdivision of more than 100 homes.
The Kamars will tap into the subdivision’s sewers in return for road access at the back of their property, and allowing residents to garden on the farm, since the subdivision’s rules prohibit gardens.
The developers are promoting the agreement in their marketing materials.
This summer, a group of University of Kentucky extension agents and professors studying urban farming visited the farm and called it a model for the region.
For Ramsi, it’s more a model for living closer to creation.
“It’s been unbelievable for my soul.”