Alexandra Lake Farm is a small family farm in the hilly country of West Central Florida that raises Animal Welfare Approved meat sheep. Leon Elt and Nataly Ko are transplants from New York City who took a cycling vacation to Florida one freezing December. They loved the area so much they eventually moved south with their daughters, Sonya and Dasha, bought the farm, and began raising sheep in 2007 because they “wanted to eat meat but didn’t want to support factory farming.” Eventually their friends—and later their friends’ friends—wanted some too and, says Leon, and the whole thing “kind of got out of hand. Sheep are pretty addictive.”
Alexandra Lake Farm’s motto is “No Weird Stuff.” Their sheep eat only grass and they don’t use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides on their pastures. Leon says, “If something looks like an attempt to force nature to do what it doesn’t want – we will not do it, period.” They also believe strongly in transparency in farming – anyone who reserves a lamb can take a tour of the farm. Receiving Animal Welfare Approved certification is another way that the Leon and Nataly assure their customers that they’re using the highest welfare standards possible and distinguish themselves from farms raising their animals intensively.
Leon and Nataly’s sheep are Katahdins – a hardy meat breed developed in the US and very well adapted to the humidity of Florida. The Katahdin breed is a hair sheep that doesn’t require sheering and many consider their meat tastier than that from wool-producing sheep. Alexandra Lake Farm’s lamb meat may be bought direct from the farm by contacting Leon via e-mail. Visitors may also enjoy the farm’s rolling hills, private lake and access to the Withlacoochee State Trail by renting the family’s vacation unit (http://www.vrbo.com/321381).