Background of farm
Muhammad Farms is situated on a 1556 acre tract in Southwest Georgia redeemed by Minister Louis Farrakhan in 1995 for the Three Year Economic Program. It is part of a larger 4500 tract of land which the Honorable Elijah Muhammad purchased in the 1960's.
Muhammad Farms stretches1.45 miles east to west and 2 miles from north to south. To get the size of the farm in perspective, the farm is as long as Central Park in New York City or the Mall in D.C. but three times as wide. It would cover 23 city blocks in one direction and 16 blocks in the other direction. Four college campuses the size of N.C. A&T in Greensboro, N.C. could comfortably fit into its perimeters. Its area would cover 1400 football fields.
Now just imagine trying to cut the grass for such an area, not to mention grow and harvest crops. It would require a man using a large garden rototiller to work 8 hours per day everyday for 3 years and 4 or 5 months to plow just 900 acres of the total 1556 acres in preparation for planting a crop. And this is just one third of the original 4500 acre farm that the Messenger bought.
Our soil is made of the famous Georgia red clay which hardens like a brick when dry, slips like ice when wet and sticks like glue to you and your equipment. Irrigation has become essential for this portion of Georgia with irrigated crop land increasing by a factor of 10 to one from 1975 to 2000.
We are committed to producing healthy holistic food with minimal artificial chemicals. "Organic" means anything with carbon in it. However, from a cultural and consumer point of view, "organic" indicates healthy food produced without artificial chemicals. However, in the real world on the farm, "organic" means "sweat". As labor permits we will substitute labor (which is expensive) for chemicals (which are cheap) as we build back the natural fertility of this once productive farm.
For each crop there is an optimal mix of land, labor and technology required to produce wholesome commodities. We therefore offer opportunities for volunteerism and internships to offset the need for cheaper but "non-organic" chemicals. To volunteer contact the farm manager.
The Future of Muhammad Farms
Costs have gone up while prices have stayed the same for the last 25 years. A pickup truck cost $2400 in 1973 but costs $18,000 or more now. Corn was $2.50 per bushel in 1973 but still $2.50 per bushel now. How can farmers make money?
The John Deere and International Harvester dealerships down here do not have any large new tractors sitting out front. They are concentrating on riding mowers and small tractors used by rich suburban home owners.
Markets have been concentrated into the hands of a few. Processing is controlled by a very few firms.
Markets are too far away for direct selling by the Black farmers down south and land is too expensive to farm closer to these markets. However, rich white folk in cities like Chicago are in fact having organic produce grown and delivered to them and are willing to pay the necessary price.
I saw on TV on the ABC evening news August 21, 2000 about a row crop farmer that went out of business and lost his farm. He went back into farming as "Chef Farm". He raised specialty vegetables for exclusive restaurants. He promised 18 hour delivery from the time the crop was picked. He gets incredible prices for his produce, but he had wealthy clients. He had 65 people working for him. Motto: get a niche market or quit.
To cut down labor costs and ensure labor requirements, at least 10 families need to live on farm. However, there is not enough employment on the farm to support 10 or even 2 families year round.
Muhammad Farms needs to be the marketing agents for Black farmers. We need the Mosques and Study groups to have active co-ops and FMC’s. We need a system of one-ton trucks and refrigerated small trailer units to serve as transportation and storage equipment.