Updated: Feb 7
I recently had the pleasure to walk and talk with Hisham Moharram, visionary, scientist and agribusiness man. As we toured the many acres of The Good Tree Farm, he shared an inspiring plan for the future of our farms, not only here in NJ - but a concept that can go far beyond.
Sharon: What is the Good Tree Farm project?
Hisham: The Good Tree Farm project aims to empower environmental and food justice activists in their effort to bring about positive change for people and planet, even as we contribute to growing local economy and entrepreneurship for those left behind by the system.
Sharon: What inspired this visionary idea?
Hisham: Our idea is to empower the most at-risk minorities and disenfranchised demographics in society with land ownership and financial independence through entrepreneurship in environmentally-focused agribusiness. The minorities in question can be racial minorities, religious minorities or cultural minorities. The disenfranchised demographics we welcome are the youth (especially those from faith communities), women (especially single mothers), and First Nation/Native American tribal members. By growing the ownership base for the Good Tree project mostly from these groups, we hope to grow their activism impact through environmental and agricultural education activities, and societal engagement (via retail opportunities, fairs, etc.). We hope to get as many 501c3 organizations on the list of owners as we can to make sure that the minorities and disenfranchised groups always have an organization representing their interests to ensure continuation of this opportunity as people move on, away, or if they simply pass away.
Sharon: How does the program work?
Hisham: We offer share ownership in exchange for working the farm with us. Details can be found at our website under the ‘Our Story’ tab. As they work to own shares, folks will get experience and practice in any of these: greenhouse construction and management; growing and managing different crops in fields, raised beds and greenhouses; aquaponics and hydroponics; orchard establishment and management; essential oil crop cultivation and processing for essential oils; natural plant product extraction and botanical product formulation; free-range poultry management and processing; honey bee management; raising beneficial insects and microorganisms for organics; renewable energy system sizing, assembly and installation; compost management and utilization; basic shop skills for construction and repairs; safe and efficient use of farm machinery; breeding and selection of new crop varieties for seed independence; installation and operation of irrigation and drainage networks; forest management; wildlife management in an agricultural setting; construction and management of agritourism facilities and programs; natural building techniques (adobe, cob, straw-bale, rammed earth); shipping container construction and home design; agribusiness management and marketing strategies. And the best part, participants gain ownership as they learn.
Sharon: Is there a way for those who would like to support the project but don’t have the time to participate?
Hisham: For those who like all this but can’t fulfill the requirements to become share owners, they can consider joining our farm team under the profit-sharing agreement. You will learn a lot about growing, harvesting and marketing organic crops. And learn as you earn. In my opinion the best deal is to do both. Work with us to become a part owner, and also join the team and share in the season’s profits. Own as you learn and earn.
Sharon: I appreciate the time you took to give me a tour and layout your vision, and I am so excited and inspired by what you are doing here. Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share with our audience?
Hisham: If you are someone from a faith community (or simply have a strong sense of spiritual/ethical responsibility toward people and planet but are not practicing in a particular faith) and you want to do something to positively impact: agriculture and food production’s impact on the environment; or equitable access to healthy food by marginalized communities; or access to food and agriculture based entrepreneurship in an incubator setting; or a stronger connection between people and nature to grow the sense of environmental responsibility and the need to fight causes of climate change – then you should consider joining our mission. Think globally, Act locally!!
If you are part of a well-off faith community, please consider empowering a less well-off faith community to become part owners and have access to all the entrepreneurship opportunities we will be making available in the coming year, plus all the other benefits they get. Just like people of faith do, communities of faith have a responsibility to support each other. Do your part!
Our selling season starts in June, but a lot of our projects and activities are underway much earlier. We hope to host screenings and discussions of important topic-focused documentaries and movies this season, so join our newsletter to stay updated and follow our Facebook page which we are about to update with a lot of pictures from last year’s activities!!
Sharon: You can learn more about Good Tree Farm at www.goodtreefarm.com; and you can learn more about the charitable nonprofit 501c3 The Good Tree at www.thegoodtreeinc.org.
This article appears in the April 2019 issue of Natural Awakenings Monmouth Ocean edition. Click here to subscribe. Thank you :)