Mitchell Provensal, the Program Coordinator for Baton Roots Community Farm, got his start with the initiative through The Walls Project, a community reactivation organization.
As a teacher, Mitchell took to using his school’s abandoned garden to teach his students about where food comes from.
After he stopped teaching, Mitchell worked at the mayor’s office, helping to manage community gardens and running a summer youth program that hired students to work with them in the gardens.
Throughout the year, Mitchell was able to branch out into more neighborhoods, teaching members of the community how to properly tend to and care for their new community gardens.
“I went back [to college] and got my Master’s in urban forestry at Southern University. I was learning more about urban agriculture and other cities in the U.S. that do amazing things to grow food and meet the needs of people. We need a stronger food system and community education on how to grow their own food, easily connecting them to fresh food,” shares Provensal.
Once he started pitching the idea for an urban farm publicly, The Walls Project scooped it up, and Baton Roots Community Farm was born.
This program was meant to help bring relief to those living in “food deserts’’ where heart-healthy meals are not guaranteed every day. Secondly, it was a promise to educate the public on how accessible fresh food truly is with some hard work.
With the backing of the mayor’s Geaux Get Healthy initiative and the generosity of Howell Park, Baton Roots Community Farm was given four acres of land to build a community garden.
In 2019, during MLK Fest with The Walls Project, volunteers built 18 raised beds called “harmony gardens,” a touchpoint for the community to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. With their space set up, Baton Roots Community Farm would be able to hold events and gardening lessons.
Baton Roots Community Farm is also focused on educating the youth by instilling a love of gardening and farming in students.
Through their Hustle and Grow program, high school students are introduced to farming through hands-on activities which opens doors to future careers in agriculture.
Students have the opportunity to sell the produce they grow, giving back to the community, and giving themselves valuable economic experience in the field.
The Baton Rouge Housing Authority has allowed Baton Roots Community Farm to construct gardens at 11 public housing sites where they conduct weekly maintenance and hold a monthly gardening education class for residents. All the produce grown goes directly into the residences’ kitchens, ensuring they receive a nutritious diet.
Baton Roots Community Farm is also hosting “Sow Good Saturday,” an event to take place on the first Saturday of every month. Their volunteers will run an educational workshop for gardeners wanting to get their backyard garden started. The event will be catered and have some sort of fun exercise, like yoga, for the community to participate in.
“With our gardens, we try to sell some produce to our partners and donate to food pantries while offering the community the ability to take what they need. One thing that we noticed when the pandemic hit is that so many people were coming around looking for food that the Howell Park beds couldn’t meet their needs,” explains Provensal.
There was an obvious need for more access to fresh food locally. To help meet the demand, the National Endowment for the Arts provided the nonprofit a grant to draw up a master plan on how to best use their acreage in Howell Park.
The plan answered the question of how to efficiently use the space. One of the most exciting parts of this plan is the construction of an education center that would give Baton Roots a dedicated facility to hold gardening and cooking classes in partnership with the American Heart Association.
Baton Roots Community Farm is focused on educating the public however they can by being a place to learn about growing, harvesting, and utilizing fruits, vegetables, and more with the utmost efficiency. If you would like to get involved and foster your green thumb, be sure to volunteer. For more information on Baton Roots Community Farm, visit