Volume 9, Number 16 January 21, 2007
2007 Ministry of Agriculture Conference: "Fighting poisons in our home and food"
by Dr. Ridgely Abdul Muímin Muhammad
On Saturday, January 20th a stream of out of town cars flowed into the little village of Bronwood, GA to attend our Annual Ministry of Agriculture Conference. We say in the Nation of Islam that Allah (God) promised us "money, good homes and friendships in all walks of life". Well in the Ministry of Agriculture we are always in need of money. Sister Anne Muhammad through her magnificent home making skills has turned the double wide mobile home at Muhammad Farms into a great home. Now, in the spirit of the Millions More Movement a "friend" has loaned their recently purchased property consisting of a large house and 12 acres of land about 4 miles from Muhammad Farms in Bronwood for use by the Ministry of Agriculture where our conference was held.
We needed all of that large house and a good portion of their yard to accommodate the 27 cities represented at the conference. Inside the Ministry of Agriculture House three workshops were held starting with an overview of the Ministry of Agriculture presented by Dr. Ridgely A. Muímin. He emphasized the portion of the ministryís mission of producing enough food to provide at least one meal per day to the 40 million or more Black people in America. To accomplish such a large task would require at least 6 million acres of land. Muhammad Farms in Georgia consists of 1600 acres. The land still owned by Black farmers is estimated at around 3 million acres. Therefore we must still purchase another 3 million acres of land to accomplish the mission of the Ministry of Agriculture.
Even the land still owned by Black farmers is not being productively utilized because of low commodity prices and their exclusion from the high end produce market. To this end the Ministry of Agriculture is promoting the development of cooperatively owned super markets to be established in our urban centers to not only provide a market for the products from Black farmers, but get "real" unpolluted food to our nutritionally starving people in the cities. Setting up at least one super market in each of the cities with a large Black population may sound monumental and farfetched except that the Ministry of Agriculture has laid out and begun to implement a simple strategy.
The ministry has promoted the development of 14 food buying clubs across the country. The food buying clubs start out with at least 10 members who pool a portion of their food buying money and purchase produce from Muhammad Farms, other Black farmers in their area or their local farmers market. This produce consists of 6 to 7 different vegetables and 3 to 4 fruits that are repackaged and distributed among the group or club. The next step is to incorporate under the structure of a "consumer cooperative" after they have secured at least 50 loyal and consistent members in their association or buying club. When the number of members grows to a consistent 500 families, the cooperative is then ready to get a permanent physical location and set up a cooperatively owned super market.
This procedure may seem very conservative and time consuming, however it has a few advantages. First, the money saved by the buying club members over time can be put into an investment account to become the seed money for the purchase of a store. Secondly, the track record developed over this time period will be documented and used in their prospectus for future investors. And thirdly and maybe most importantly, this methodology will ensure the success of their super market when it opens, because the cooperative knows that it will have enough of a built in customer base to keep the "volunteers" compensated and the overhead paid.
Reports were then presented from four of the buying clubs on their strategies for success. Bro. Ridgely X presented from Greensboro, NC, Bro. Frank Muhammad from the Raleigh/Durham, NC area, Bro. Earl Muhammad from Macon, GA and Bro. Gerald Muhammad from Vicksburg/Jackson, Miss. Each of the presenters emphasized that they have broadened their base to include customers outside of the registered members of the Nation of Islam and have reached out very successfully to the Local Organizing Committees of the Millions More Movement. They feel that this broadened customer base will ensure their faster growth to the goal of a cooperatively owned super market.
Next on the agenda was a dynamite presentation from Sister Minister Ava Muhammad, a National Spokesperson for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, on "Making the home safe". The audience was shocked to know that the same chemical companies that produced weapons in World War II got together after the war and developed a strategy to use their chemical production capacity and excess chemicals for the production of home cleaning products. Minister Ava informed the group that the FDA has publicly admitted that of the almost 75,000 chemicals registered with them, less than 20% have been tested for toxicity. Women were the targets for these knew home cleaning products and soaps through a mass advertising campaign that included the development of afternoon "soap operas". Now our households are hooked on "poisons" that are not even necessary to clean our clothes, homes and bodies. Minster Ava emphasized the need for each of us, especially our sisters, to become "scientists" so that we can protect our families from the poisons of wicked and greedy so-called scientists.
The conference then moved to the backyard for a real-time demonstration of how to set up your "urban garden" using three different strategies. Bro. Earl Muhammad demonstrated how to set up a raised bed garden along with a simple irrigation system. Bro. Frank Muhammad demonstrated how to set up your porch or window garden using 4 different sized containers. And Bro. Gerald Muhammad demonstrated how to set up a miniature greenhouse that would expand your growing season, especially for those living in the colder northern climates. The demonstrators emphasized the need for good record keeping to document the progress of their garden and to record any anomalies that would be helpful planning and operating their garden for the next season. The Ministry of Agriculture has produced a "Muhammad Farms Calendar" for 2007 that includes pictures of Muhammad Farms, Black history dates, crop harvesting dates and space for the recording of your garden activities on a day to day basis.
These calendars will be available during the Saviours' Day Weekend in Detroit, Mich. in February of 2007 along with a DVD of the garden demonstrations and the workshop on the food buying clubs. Also included on the DVDs will be a tour of Muhammad Farms which the caravan of conference participants took. On this tour the participants were given a comparison of techniques demonstrated for their gardens and techniques used on our 1600 acre or 1300 football fields operation.
The conference was capped off by a fine dinner from the "Muhammad Farms Kitchen" prepared by Sister Anne Muhammad and Sister Brenda X using some of the fall produce from Muhammad Farms. The participants applauded the workshops, the demonstrations, the tour and the food.
Pictures from Conference click Here