CPP student farmer follows roots to support community

By Maria Flores, Feb. 9, 2021

While many students returned home last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hugo Moctezuma-Anguiano, a third-year plant science student minoring in agronomy, remained on campus to work alongside the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture as a farmer at Spadra Farm in hopes of supporting the community.

Since then, Moctezuma-Anguiano has spent his days at Cal Poly Pomona’s Spadra Farm, an organic farm located approximately 1 mile away from campus, with a team of student-farmers to produce fresh crops for the local community. With over 125 acres of land to manage, he works three days a week from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. while attending classes.

“I feel proud of having a job because I know during these tough times people do not have a job,” said Moctezuma-Anguiano. “I feel good being able to harvest and take them to the farmer’s market to feed the world.”

Third-year plant science student Hugo Moctezuma-Anguiano works at the Spadra Farm to help feed the community during the pandemic. (Courtesy of Hugo Moctezuma-Anguiano)

At the farm, Moctezuma-Anguiano manages fields of vegetables and fruits, including avocados, broccoli, cauliflower and mandarins. As a student farmer, he is responsible for sowing seeds, applying fertilizer and spraying pesticides.

One of his goals as a student-farmer includes finding safe and organic alternatives to growing crops. Moctezuma-Anguiano is currently working on an upcoming vermicomposting project where he will learn how to create his own organic fertilizer and identify how plants react to it.

Moctezuma-Anguiano also had the opportunity to participate in a Justin Bieber music video for the song “Holy,” released last September and filmed at Spadra Farm. He can be spotted driving a tractor in front of Bieber at the start of the music video.

Just as the video shines a light on the difficulties of laid-off workers during the pandemic, Moctezuma-Anguiano shared that he is constantly reminded of his roots when driving the tractor near the crops.

“It just comes from my background. I came from Mexico and all my family used to have agriculture over there,” Moctezuma-Anguiano said.

Moctezuma-Anguiano was born in the United States but was raised in Colima, Mexico, a small state located by the Pacific Ocean where he spent more than half of his life exposed to the agricultural industry. By age 16, Moctezuma-Anguiano returned to the United States with dreams of working internationally with his family and producing organic bananas and papayas in Mexico.

Whether it is experimenting to find alternatives for quality produces or raising awareness on organic agriculture, he is honored to help deliver produce “from farm to table.”

“I never thought I was going to make it, but I made it… I haven’t missed any days of works since the coronavirus has started and I feel proud,” Moctezuma-Anguiano said.

Updates on his farming journey will be documented through his Instagram account @hugo_the_farmer.

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