From an editing studio in Los Angeles to the seat of a tractor on Martha’s Vineyard, Ryan Hassell made the kind of career change a lot of people only dream of when he came to Morning Glory Farm in the spring of 2018. But in fact, he was just returning to his roots.
“Farming is actually in my family history. My grandparents and great-grandparents farmed along the Connecticut River in western Mass.,” said Ryan, who was born in Northampton and grew up in Framingham.
A lifelong musician with a flair for photography and moving images, Ryan studied film and video production at Emerson College in Boston before embarking on a career editing video in L.A.
A few years later, a young woman from Martha’s Vineyard was visiting a friend of Ryan’s in the city. Introduced, the two hit it off and in time, Ryan made the move to M.V.
It was sheer happenstance that when he was looking for work on the Island, Morning Glory was hiring for an unusual hybrid position: field hand/photographer/videographer. He was the ideal candidate.
“I’ll pick up the farming as I go,” Ryan remembers thinking.
He was right. While the farm videos he created — sizzle reels, time-lapses and more — were outstanding, it was the farming that really spoke to Ryan. Two years later, he was promoted to field crew chief.
“I love growing food, and being able to go out and see a plant from start to finish,” he said.
And he feels a lot healthier than when he was spending eight hours a day in the editing studio. The job is hard, but “beats going to the gym,” he said.
“It feels fulfilling not only physically but also spiritually,” Ryan added. “It’s really captivated my imagination and my desire to provide for my fellow humans.”
As for the woman who introduced him to Martha’s Vineyard: She and Ryan were married last year, and on many a night after work he makes dinner for the two of them with fresh Island produce — though it’s not always from Moglo.
“When the day is done, I go out to my garden,” Ryan said. “I go back and tend crops and weed and water the tomatoes and prune the plants and the flowers.
“It’s hard to keep up with everything, but I find a way to do what’s necessary to produce healthy food crops” —often applying skills and knowledge acquired in the Moglo fields.
“I’m learning new things every day — that’s exciting,” he said.