The summer issue of Norfolk Farms incorrectly identified the primary farmer of an orchard-garlic operation near Wilsonville.
Ahmad Hassan, 39, farms LuLu’s Orchards on Old Highway 24, which produces 25 apple varieties, as well as other types of fruit, and garlic.
Locals know the farm by its former name of OK Farms, which Hassan’s in-laws, Ben and Anne Obeid established on a 14-acre site north of Waterford in 1988; it has since grown to four tracts totaling 184 acres.
The original farm is the childhood home of Hassan’s wife, Alaa Obeid, and is where they raise their three children, aged 10 and three.
Hassan bought OK Farms when Obeid retired in 2021, renaming it LuLu’s Orchards, after Obeid’s childhood nickname for Alaa. “Ben built the base of the farm; therefore, it’s a fresh name and the founding family name continues,” said Hassan.
Born in a Lebanese refugee camp, Hassan grew up in Hamilton and worked in the crane industry in the early 2000s. He married Alaa in 2009 and settled here while continuing to work in the city.
Hassan transitioned into farming over seven years, starting with a small orchard behind his home prior to buying his in-laws’ farms.
“I didn’t start this with blind eyes and I have a mentor. I saw that my future was in farming, so I quit my city job.”
LuLu’s Orchards’ 25 apple varieties range from the traditional Macintosh and Ida Red to newer ones such as Cosmic Crisp. They focus on multiple varieties where some ripen in July with others ripening into late autumn, ensuring a manageable picking schedule.
Their four plum varieties include a numbered early variety and Italian prunes. The two peach crops are Red Haven and Garnet Beauty, esteemed for their red flush. They grow quince and some crabapple.
Two acres of raspberries grow on the home farm, some of which Hassan’s 10-year old twins, Adam and Noah, sell from a roadside stand.
Garlic had always been part of OK Farms, and fits in well with Hassan’s harvest schedule. This year’s acreage consists mainly of Music with some Purple Russian and a soft neck variety called Matador.
LuLu’s Orchards direct markets their fruit, mature and green garlic through four venues: the Ontario Food Terminal, using OK Farms’ stand established 38 years ago; the Norfolk Apple Growers and Collingwood’s Bay Growers. From July until late October, Alaa manages biweekly sales at the St. Jacobs Farmers Market.
Hassan said that he made the right choice to farm, if only for his children. “Watching them grow up around the farm, compared with their cousins in Hamilton, they seem to be growing up much faster and they take on so much more responsibility.”