Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Baton Roots is dreaming of a whole new look. Since Walls Project started Baton Roots in 2019, the program has quickly expanded from its main community farm at BREC Howell Park to a network of community farms at schools and affordable housing sites across Baton Rouge.
From the beginning, Baton Roots’ mission was to provide fresh food access in food deserts as well as improve the community's quality-of-life, public safety and economic development through year-round agriculture, health and arts programming.This year, the program is ready to share its new and improved vision of the Baton Roots community farm.
This aspirational document hopes to result in the Walls collaborating with their partners at BREC to implement components of the plan over the next 1-5 years. The vision is to transform the 4-acre farm into a walking and biking friendly agricultural wonderland with art installations, performances spaces, areas to create, farmers markets, innovative gardens, and edible crops.
Over the course of 2020 and 2021, the plan was developed by Walls Project, the LSU School of Landscape Architecture, LSU School of Architecture and the Coastal Sustainability Studio and co-curated by artist-in-residence, Faheem Majeed. Project partners on the master plan included National Endowment for the Arts, BREC, LSU, HealthyBR/Geaux Get Healthy and over a hundred community organizations, schools and municipal agencies.
“We had to think about what art means and what types of spaces are beneficial to that,” LSU Landscape Architecture professor Nicholas Serrano says.
Integrating art into Baton Roots has always been the organization’s goal. In addition to wanting to launch its own artist and farmer residency program, the plan for the art farm includes temporary art installations where local artists can showcase their work or visiting artists-in-residence can utilize the space for community outreach. It’s not all about visual art at Baton Roots either. Performance and makers spaces are also being considered to include stages and covered gathering spots.
“We had to think about the types of art that the Louisiana and Baton Rouge community supports and participates in.”
The art farm will be the first of its kind in the Baton Rouge area. It will feature many spaces for community engagement including a potential farmers market area for local businesses and growers to set up shop and sell fresh foods. Baton Roots wants to have a maker’s space area where locals can create anything from art to woodworking projects amidst the backdrop of an urban farm oasis. Who needs an art studio when you have The Yard Lab?
With the vision of Baton Roots and the support of local residents the Walls Projects aims to expand the concept of public art, create pavilions for education and food distribution, launch a visiting artist-in-residence program and share a space where the public and professional artists can work to create art. By sharing the plan with the community, the art farm is one step closer to becoming a tangible open-air, green and art space that is transformational to Baton Rouge.
"Over the past three years, Baton Roots has distributed tens of thousands of pounds of food to community members throughout East Baton Rouge Parish. We’ve instructed hundreds of educational sessions and worked with residents to develop communal knowledge about growing our own food here in Louisiana. We are so grateful to receive this Planning Award from NEA to solidify the vision for Baton Roots and to house our program at BREC’s Howell Community Park. We are excited to use the incredible work in this document to push our farming efforts forward, not for ourselves, but for the neighbors of the farm and larger community. We know how urban agriculture education and learning about food can bring people together, and we are so excited for these recommendations for Baton Roots to bring even more people into our program’s home and further our collective learning. Our vision is to help repair the food system and bring fresh food access to all residents of East Baton Rouge Parish. This aspirational document shows the path to completing this mission and we admire all the hard work, attention to detail, and dedication required to create this master plan. Thank you again for all involved and we will see you on the farm!"
- Mitchell Provensal (Senior Program Coordinator, Baton Roots Community Farm)
See the complete masterplan for the Baton Roots art farm here.