Baton Roots Community Farm is like Hannah Wascomb’s second home. Wascomb spends five days a week at Baton Roots in Howell Park and knows all four acres like the back of her hand. She knows the names of all of the plants in the ground, when the crops need to be watered or weeded, which bugs are pests or friends, and what plants are edible or poisonous. This is the life of a Baton Roots farm manager.
Wascomb became the farm manager of Baton Roots at Howell Park, the largest site in the farm and garden network, in Fall 2021. For as long as she can remember, Wascomb has always been interested in gardening. Both of her parents loved the outdoors, plants and flowers.
In 2020, Wascomb lost her job in the hospitality industry due to the pandemic and started growing plants for fun. Later that year, she became a farmhand at Baton Roots and six months later she was promoted to farm manager.
“I just asked a lot of questions,” Wascomb says about preparing for her job. “It’s a lot of trial and error and observation. When you know the seasons and how they affect the crops, it helps to grow better.”
Baton Roots grows everything under the sun. Crops include potatoes, arugula, sugar snap peas, sweet corn, okra, carrots, sweet peppers, bell peppers, lettuce, parsley, basil, cilantro, kohlrabi, eggplants, habanero peppers, cucumbers, kale, tomatoes, watermelons, sweet potatoes, and assorted flowers.
Each plant is treated with special care. Wascomb’s attention to detail is reflected in the generous weekly harvests of vibrant, lively vegetables and plants from the farm. As she walks through tall rows of sugar snap peas growing up to the sky, Wascomb stops to find the thickest sugar snap peas on the vine, plucks them, snaps them in half, and eats them for a snack.
“Snap peas are good all-around because for one, they’re tasty and two, they’re beneficial to other plants because they produce nitrogen,” Wascomb says as she bites into a crunchy pea pod.
It’s not all snacking and planting for the farm manager, though. While most of her time is spent on the farm, she divides her days between answering questions from the public, inputting farm data into the computer, dropping off fresh harvests around town, and problem-solving issues like water mitigation at BREC Howell Park, pesky pests, or other unpredictable events.
“A lot of things are just out of human control,'' Wascomb says. “The earth is unpredictable. The weather is unpredictable. No matter how badly we want to predict it. Farming requires some flexibility. You can’t take things personally if something doesn’t grow well. It also gives you this sense of peace with the world because you know you’re not in control of everything and you kind of just have to go with the flow.”
Urban agriculture is gaining traction in cities looking to shorten the distance between food and consumer. Starting or being a part of an urban farm network is a tangible step toward food sovereignty. Wascomb, like many staff and volunteers of Baton Roots, finds pride in working towards a more sustainable food system. And of course, the limitless Vitamin D supply from Mother Nature is a nice perk too.
Want to try out urban farming? Sign up here today to volunteer with Wascomb and the rest of the team at Baton Roots.