Raised on a family farm in Bangladesh, Mohammed Hannan moved to the US a little over 10 years ago with his family. When he found it difficult to find the fresh organic produce he had enjoyed as a child, Mohammed decided to grow his own! In 2018, Mohammed started Hannan Agro Farms and has been growing and selling award-winning produce at prices that even his less fortunate neighbors can afford. Some of his specialty crops include heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, heirloom cucumbers and salad mix. In addition to those, Mohammed is looking forward to growing gongura and different types of gourds (bitter, bottle, snake and ridge) this year, and says he wants to grow more Southeast Asian ethnic vegetables to bring back memories of his childhood.
Mohammed says the idea of food justice drew him to become a farmer, as he believes that organic food is not a privilege but rather a right. To reflect that, Hannan Agro Farm’s (HAF) mission is to grow affordable organic vegetables, fruits and crops for the diverse community of Massachusetts using sustainable farming practices to build and maintain a symbiotic relationship between people, land, animals, food and the environment. Mohammed says his familiarity with traditional farming practices came from growing up on a small family farm, and he later learned how to use modern tools and techniques when he became part of the New Entry Incubator Farm Training program.
Mohammed gives thanks to New Entry for getting him started in Massachusetts back in 2018, when Hannan Agro Farms began as a small piece of land that Mohammed leased from Tufts University’s New Entry Sustainable Farming Project. Hannan Agro Farm has since expanded to 2.5 acres of land in Lincoln, MA where Mohammed plans to increase his growing list to over 40 different types of vegetables, fruits, and herbs, including many from Southeast Asia. Like others, Mohammed finds that starting a farm and working full time has never been easy. “It is challenging but it is rewarding when I can make my own decisions,” he says when asked how running his own farm compares to other kinds of work he has done. The most challenging aspect to him is working in all weather conditions throughout the short growing season, but finds it amply rewarding to be able to enjoy fresh Southeast Asian produce, which would not be possible otherwise!
For the last three years, Mohammed has worked every weekend over the summer on his farm to learn the ins and outs of farming and has been doing a lot of experiments without big investment - thanks to the Incubator farming program at New Entry! “My farm dream would not see the light without help from New Entry,” he says. When he’s not farming, you can find Mohammed at his full-time job at Harvard Medical School. Perhaps this is why he takes his farm’s motto from Hippocrates – “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”
One technique used at Hannan Agro Farms is landscape fabric to control weeds. Whether he learn this from his home country or at New Entry, we know this is a great production technique that helps to grow those beloved and award-winning vegetables and fruit! When it comes to getting his produce to customers, Mohammed uses direct marketing through CSA and Freedom shares, grocery stores and New Entry’s own Food Hub. Part of his mission is to maintain a symbiotic relationship with people, and these are just some of the ways! To follow along with Hannan Agro Farms and learn more information, check out their social media below:
Facebook: @hannan agro farms