FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – The New Roots Community Farm in Fayetteville is on the grounds of the old Whitlock Farm but what makes this new farm special is what it provides for the community. It also might have something to do with Susanna Wheeler, the young, female farmer running it.
“I’m just following the things that I believe in and that I’m passionate about and the work that I like to do and so that’s what has lead me into this position,” Wheeler said. “But I think it’s important also to see representation does matter and it’s important for young women to see themselves in these roles and so maybe that’s what I’m doing here.”
But Susanna Wheeler is not just here to be a role model. She’s running an 84-acre Fayette County farm.
A Charleston native and a West Virginia University graduate, she came to the area back in 2012 and started farming in Nicholas County. Connections made there brought her to Fayette County where she began farming on leased land, but when the Fayette County Farmland Protection Board purchased the old Whitlock Farm, they had a vision to turn it into New Roots Community Farm and wanted to put Wheeler at the head of it.
“A community farm means that we will engage in some community gardening,” she said. “We’re going to work on food access issues. We’re going to work on education and training for new and beginning farmers and we’re really here to just facilitate and support the community to create a food system that they want to see here,” she said.
And she has the Fayette County Resource Coordinator’s Office, the Fayette County Commission, the farmland protection board and the Urban Renewal Authority all on her side and with the help of grants, they’re able to fund the farm.
Next week, Wheeler will celebrate her first full year running the farm, and she looks ahead to many more years of finding new ways to get the community involved.
“I want to be in this community. I made a lot of really great friends, and I see the potential of Fayette County and Fayetteville to develop a more sustainable and equitable food system for the people that live here.”
If you want to check out the farm, New Roots will be hosting a free fall harvest celebration from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, October 25. The celebration will pumpkin carvings, food and a chance to learn about the work the farm is doing.