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Meet Joanna Bassi of Rose Hill Farm

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joanna Bassi.

Hi Joanna, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Three years ago, I was working in an art department of a major network television show. The work wasn’t fulfilling for me and I knew I wanted to make a larger impact. So one day, I finally had enough and decided to pursue something that would be more inline with my values. I wanted to work with and help the environment while also engaging with my community. I learned about urban farming and selling hyper local produce and decided that I would start by putting all my effort into rehabilitating my hillside backyard. I started by pulling out all the weeds and shrubs that filled the hillside. After that, I began terracing each row by digging pathways starting from the top of the hill and working my way down. As I dug, I began to discover that when the house was built (in the 1920’s), the first tenants would use the hill as a personal landfill, so I was discovering old bicycle frames, car parts, and tons of other junk. After each terrace was dug out and cleared, I would then add a retaining wall, raised beds and finished the level off with my first round of vegetables.

After about a year in (I was still working on the terracing at this time), I discovered microgreens and thought it would be awesome to sell them along with the vegetables I was growing. I built an indoor growing space in my driveway and began selling them to my local farmers market in Alhambra as well as to some of my favorite locally run restaurants. This last year, as the pandemic wore on and the farmers markets and restaurants began to lockdown, I turned to selling produce directly to consumers through my website. I also began to realize that with social distancing the farm could be used as a safe, private event space. So I then built an outdoor kitchen with an argentine grill, pizza oven, dining space, and even a small fruit orchard. So far, I have hosted farm to table dining experiences, a proposal dinner, and birthdays. Sharing the farm through Healing Gardens has been such a rewarding experience for both me and my community. Having the garden open for others to delight in nature and take a moment to be still, make lasting memories, and potentially get inspired is what the main intention is here at Rosehill farm.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Building the farm has been a pretty huge undertaking. Outside of some occasional help from my dad and brother, I built the farm entirely by myself. There were days where I was absolutely exhausted from juggling construction, carrying down soil, and finding time to plant and learn. Some days it was hard to just keep up motivation to see the vision through. I had never committed to anything of this scale and it was terrifying at times. However, after three years of wrestling with this hill and my own self-doubt, I can say that I’m a stronger and more confident person having persevered through all the weariness it took to build this little urban oasis.

We’ve been impressed with Rose Hill Farm, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My business is an urban farm located in the hills of Montecito Heights in Los Angeles. We provide a space for farm to table events, education on gardening and cooking, as well as nursery events. We specialize in microgreens which we sell to local communities and restaurants. To book a private event here or to see our offerings, you can reach out to us directly via our website (rosehillfarm.la) or book your event through the Healing Gardens (book.healinggardens.co).

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
My most valued characteristic for success is creative thinking. I went to college for fine art and specialized in sculpture. While at school, I learned how to think through a problem or challenge by translating it in a way that breaks projects down into simple steps which made the farm seem more approachable and that was invaluable. When I started to visualize the farm, I looked at the barren hillside behind my house and told myself it was no different than sculpting–only this time, I was sculpting the land. I understood that this was going to be a long process but when you are working on a piece of art, it is taught that the most value in any object lies in the act of creation itself. This is where real innovation, discovery and unique solutions arise and inform the finished project.

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