October 24th, 2016

Elisa Lane and Two Boots Farm

by Nate Charnas

Elisa Lane didn’t know “how to plant a tomato” when she first became interested in farming. Now she is in her seventh year growing fruits and vegetables. “I’ve always been interested in self-sufficiency,” she explains, and from construction jobs to helping start multiple farms and a farmers market, Elisa epitomizes DIY. She was working on permaculture projects when she decided to enroll in Future Harvest-CASA’s Beginning Farmer Training Program. The program pairs beginning farmers with experienced farmers, so Elisa was able to intern 1 day a week for an entire season with Calvert’s Gift Farm in Sparks, MD. Between her formal training and some tips from her husband, who had a community garden plot in Philadelphia, Elisa soon learned enough to co-founded Whitelock Community Farm in 2010 with some of her neighbors in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood of Baltimore.

Elisa had always wanted to live in the country (she considers herself and her husband “back-to-the-landers”). After a few years of looking, she found a place she like in Hampstead (Baltimore County). It was difficult to leave Whitelock and the urban farming community, but she made the leap and started Two Boots Farm in 2014. With 1 acre of land in production, the farm has a limited amount of space to grow on, so Elisa specializes in small crops. They have a “good mix of things” like pawpaw trees, cut flowers (sunflowers and dahlias), and “all kinds of vegetables” including salad greens, microgreens, and shiitake mushrooms (which are delicious but difficult to grow because they operate “on their own schedule”).

Two Boots Farm sells at the Hampden Farmers Market on Saturdays and the Baltimore Farmers Market and Bazaar under the JFX on Sundays. Elisa sees an important role for herself at these markets beyond simply providing her produce: “One thing I really enjoy about the farmers market is that it’s a chance for the farmer to also be an educator…it helps people connect to their food.” Elisa was one of the first vendors at Hampden, so she has “very loyal, consistent customers” and does well despite the small size of the market. On the other hand, this is Elisa’s first year at the Baltimore Farmers Market and Bazaar. Although “it took a while for people to find us” because of all the different vendors, Two Boots is beginning to get regulars at that market as well. “People are super lovely there,” says Elisa, and she appreciates how the market provides a communal place for Baltimoreans from all over the city.

“I love being able to talk to my customers and explain what’s going at the farm. It feels really special.”

About the Author Nate Charnas

Nate Charnas is an AmeriCorps VISTA at MDFMA focusing on increasing benefits access for farmers market customers. He is originally from San Francisco and hopes the good people of Baltimore will accept all of his Giants clothing as a sign of solidarity with the Orioles.