Volume 10, Number 10 August 17, 2007
Farm Camp at Muhammad Farms
by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Mu’min Muhammad
From the end of June to the first of August Muhammad Farms sponsored its first farm camp for young men. The participants included Emil Reeves, a college student from Florida A&M University and three teenagers from Newark, N.J.: Kwame Amparbin (14), Kodwo Amparbin (16) and Malachi Worsly (15). Our goal was to give these young men a taste of farm life and some of the responsibilities of running a household.
Over the years we have had frequent visitors to Muhammad Farms including school aged children. On these visits we try to give a brief experience of farm life by placing them in the fields to fight weeds or pick produce. However, most of these visits last only a few hours and did not give the full flavor of farm life. So this year we experimented with a longer program of work and training.
We stressed to our first four young men that agriculture is the root of civilization. We did not expect them necessarily to become farmers, but the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad has taught us that "the farm is the engine for our national life". The farm provides the raw materials such as food, fiber, lumber and minerals that feed into the processing, manufacturing and distribution industries. The hard work put in by the farmer produces the opportunity for jobs off of the farm.
One question that we like to ask visitors, "Have you ever heard of a ‘bean counter’?" Some would get it and say, "You mean an accountant?" That’s right. In Ancient Egypt (Kemet) they had an over abundance of food produced including beans. They also had a large population. Therefore, to insure a proper distribution of the "beans" someone had to count the beans or weigh them, count the people, then make a fair distribution, so the accountant was born.
We also stress how astronomy was necessary to keep up with the seasons so that the farmers would plant on time. Surveyors were necessary to keep up with property borders. Mechanics and blacksmiths were required to keep the equipment going. When the Arabs invaded Egypt thirteen hundred years ago, they found the Egyptians practicing a science of manipulating the elements. Since the people of Egypt at that time were black, the Arabs called that science the "science of the blacks". And since the Egyptian word for "black" was "kem" or "chem.", the word was translated "chemistry". A farmer must keep his soil properly balanced between acidity and alkalinity. He must also test the quality of his product and know when the product takes on decay. Therefore, he must learn some aspects of chemistry or go broke.
We at Muhammad Farms appreciate the effort of these young men in the various tasks that we had them to experience. They picked watermelons, cantaloupes, eggplant, sweet corn and squash. They hoed weeds. They helped repair equipment and grounds. They even traveled with us as we made produce deliveries to Atlanta, D.C., Newark, Philadelphia, Greensboro, Durham, Vicksburg, Birmingham, Memphis and Monroe.
We enjoyed watching these young men grow stronger, wiser and more mature during their stay. We also learned that they worked a lot better when working directly beside a grown man. They wanted to prove their manhood by doing the same work that grown men did. It seems that during the teenage years when a young man or woman is between being a child and a grown up, they learn more by being shown what to do than told what to do. This is a difficult age for them when most grown ups work outside the home where children are not allowed. Therefore work is a "mystery" to them at a time when they need training the most.
We asked these young men to write a report of their experience. Please take the time to read exerts from two of them.
Kwame Amparbin wrote:
"…I was taught many things about a farmer’s life and how hard they work. No matter what the degrees are outside or how tired they are from the previous day they worked. What really got me one day was while working, I was told to pick watermelons and I was being lazy. Dr. Ridgely came to me and said why be lazy when working for a black man and especially a Muslim black man doing right. He told me if I was working for a white man I would be working hard trying not to mess up and get fired… I appreciate Dr. Ridgely and Sister Ann helping us, so that if one day we would be instructed to lead our nation we would have the tools to do so."
Emil Reeves wrote:
"I decided to major in the Agricultural engineering sciences before going to college due to the inspiration of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s teachings. However, the need to study in this field became more apparent after observing the behavior of the young children in the Mosque especially the males… After Minister Farrakhan had asked us to fast from meat, I began to do some research and the only thing I could link between the believers and this behavior were our diets. I began to truly see how dependent we have become of the enemy and his food supply.
…I have witnessed how believers have lost discipline in order to get their produce during deliveries to the different cities and during the "Founder’s Day Celebration" at "Muhammad Farms". The believers questioned the quality and other aspects of the produce, however they eat the enemies produce. Some believers criticized the produce harvested by other believers even though they did not go into the fields and harvest any crops for themselves.
…I would strongly recommend the creation of a work, training and civilization program here at Muhammad Farms for all men, women and children. While here they can be "detoxed" from the mindset of this world by removing distractions such as television, computers, radios, cars, clothing etc. and putting them in an environment where they must live and work together, giving us as believers the opportunity to "hear" ourselves think and experience freedom through working in the fields, while here the open space and fresh diet should allow us to maximize our thinking ability letting our thoughts travel twenty-four billion miles per second…
In conclusion, the experience I have gained at "Muhammad Farms" will continue to guide my physical, spiritual and intellectual development. Not only did I learn about the harvesting and production aspect of agriculture but I learned more about myself whether strengths or weaknesses. Most importantly after residing at "Muhammad Farms" I bear witness to the urgency of "Accepting our own" and "doing for self". I definitely believe we as a people have an enemy who destroys our mind and bodies through food. So we will continue to suffer until we have our own land. Consequently, without farmland you cannot build a "nation". Little do we know that the "land" which our people have run away from provides everything we will ever need to ‘do for ourselves’."
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