Local farmer Matthew Hancock 'wouldn't trade places with anyone'

Matthew Hancock raises 10 crops on his farm north of Nashville, nearly all of which are seasonally available at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” he quips.

Matthew Hancock raises 10 crops on his farm north of Nashville, nearly all of which are seasonally available at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket,” he quips.

As Community Farm Day fast approaches (Saturday, July 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.), we checked in with 10-year NFM farmer Matthew Hancock to ask a few questions about life on his fourth-generation Hancock Family Farm, where he lives with his wife Jodi and their four children.

We squeezed in a quick interview while he was making a morning delivery from his farm in nearby Springfield to his longtime NFM stand manager Charles Jackson. During peak season, Hancock Family Farm sells at the Market Monday through Saturday.

How many different crops do you grow?
Ten, including corn, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, blackberries, peaches, apples, soybeans and wheat. We also raise beef on our land that is unsuitable for farming.

Why so many?
Short answer: don’t put all your eggs in one basket. In farming, every year is different — one might be great for some crops and not others, then the next year might be the total opposite.

How long have you been farming?
All my life, and I’ve been farming my own crops for 23 years.

Since your land was farmed by your great-grandparents before you, are you a farmer by choice or was that decision made for you on the day you were born?
By choice. I’ve seen many family members leave the farm, but I wouldn’t trade places with anyone.

The farm has been in our family for 108 years. We actually live in my great-grandparents’ house where my grandfather was born. My dad farmed part-time. 

Is there one crop you look forward to more than any other?
No — I look forward to the change in seasons and watching seed turn into so much more.

What does farming give back to you?
How it shapes your life and grows your faith. In farming we have droughts and storms and sometimes devastation — just like in life. I’ve had addictions I thought I would never overcome, but my faith in the Lord helped me overcome my mistakes. Now I no longer use tobacco or grow it, which is helping to shape my life and my family for generations to come.

What’s the most difficult?
Changes in the weather and markets.

What brings your regular customers back?
The flavor and freshness of our product and our satisfaction guarantee.

What’s the best thing about selling at the Nashville Farmers’ Market?
Meeting people from around the world and making new friends.

David Gonnerman