Fresh Take Blog
Farmers & Producers

Owning it: Dodo Farms Purchases Land in Howard County, MD

Feb. 20, 2024

To celebrate their recent announcement of land ownership, we caught up with Tope Fajingbesi who, along with her husband Niyi, runs Dodo Farms. Together, they grow produce that not only nourishes our bodies but also our earth. Dodo Farms was founded as a certified Naturally Grown Produce Farm and joined the FRESHFARM network in 2018. They grow a wide variety of seasonal vegetables and specialty crops. Tope and Niyi are committed to supplying members of the community with fairly priced, fresh, and naturally grown produce. 

In addition to being a farmer, Nigerian-born Tope is a Certified Public Accountant, Africa-focused social entrepreneur, University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources lecturer on agricultural business management, and former Future Harvest board member.


FRESHFARM: You just acquired a 10-acre farm property in Howard County, Maryland. How has the relocation gone so far?

Tope: The relocation has been both exciting and challenging. Exciting because we are beginning to see the possibilities we have dreamed about for such a long time! No matter how cold it is, Niyi is up and out on the field doing one thing or the other starting at 6:30 or 7am. It’s challenging because getting land is just the beginning – we are spending an unreal amount of money trying to make sure that land is useful. But all in all, we are very happy and excited.


FRESHFARM: How is the new space different from Dodo’s previous location, which you leased, in Montgomery County, Maryland?

Tope: Oh! This is ours. Meaning, that we have the “creative freedom” to use the land as we wish. Also, this is over 10 acres of land, so we have enough room to play and to dream.


FRESHFARM: What does this expansion mean for Dodo’s business? Dodo’s CSA?

Tope: We are finally planning to relaunch our CSA because we can now offer what people want–an on-farm pick-up experience–which we could not do previously. We are also offering a different sort of CSA–our CSA customers will receive both fresh produce and access to carefully curated programs as part of their CSA subscription. They will also get a chance to volunteer!

Our CSA customers will receive both fresh produce and access to carefully curated programs as part of their CSA subscription.

Even our farmers market customers won’t be left out. One of the most frequently asked questions at FRESHFARM Silver Spring and Dupont Circle is: “Where is your farm? Can we visit?” We get asked this question all the time and feel so bad to have to say no. Now that we own the farm, we can say yes.


FRESHFARM: Are there farming practices you are excited to start doing now that you are working on land you own rather than lease? Do you have plans to introduce new crops?

Tope: Although we were already doing these before, we get to practice crop rotation and cover cropping on a larger scale and in a well-defined–or should I say planned–manner.


FRESHFARM: Congratulations on your recent appointment to the 2024 Acres: Cultivating Equity in Black Agriculture cohort, which facilitates the advancement of Black farmers and assists cohort members in achieving Minority Business Entity (MBE) status. What are you most excited for within the program?

Tope: I am most excited about the possibilities of learning in community with other farmers, most of whom look like me, and share my struggles.

Read more about the Acres Program here.

About Dodo Farms

FRESHFARM: What does ‘Dodo’ mean?

Tope: My husband and I, we’re from the south part of Nigeria. My husband’s name is Niyi Balogun. Dodo is short for “Dodondawa” which is like a title and alias for people whose last name is Balogun. Dodondawa is the name of Niyi’s farm in Nigeria; he had a farm before he came here. People will not know how to say Dodondawa, so we shortened it to Dodo.


FRESHFARM: Have you always been a farmer? If not, when did you start? How did you become interested in farming?

Tope: I have not always been a farmer. I was introduced to farming through my dad. He was an engineer and he quit engineering for farming, and I was like, “I’m not about this life that you’re trying to make.” But he always involved me in doing the books of the farm. He wanted me to do more and more on the farm, but it just seemed so hard.

You see the irony of life. I got married to Niyi and he was living in Nigeria and I was living here. We were thinking of where to move together. He said if he moved to America, the only thing he would want to do is farm. I said sure, why not, but I had no clue how that would happen, I just wanted him to come to America. I did not know a single person who farmed, but I just told this man that it was doable. When he came here, he wanted to go learn from someone who farmed, so he left to do an internship for seven months. Then we started looking for our own land, and the rest is history.


Read more about Dodo Farm’s journey with FRESHFARM.

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