Muhammad Family Farm
The Muhammad Family Farm is located in Southampton County, near the small towns of Branchville and Boykins. The property is comprised of 66 acres, of which 21 is cleared. It is owned by husband-and-wife team Shelton and Adriene Muhammad. They live on the farm with their four children.
They bought the farm in 2009 with the desire to learn how to produce food for themselves and their family. The farm has mostly earned income through conventional practices, but with their boys growing up, the Muhammads are determined to do something that can help transform their rural, low-income community that lacks access to any healthy, nutritious food.
Up the road from the farm is the town of Boykins, with a population of about 550 people. There is a Dollar General store in town and a convenience store, both of which sell only processed junk food, and there is no other place to purchase fresh, nutritious food within 30 minutes. Like a lot of small towns, there is tremendous pride and spirit, and no one exemplifies that more than Shelton Muhammad. He decided to organize the formation of a farm market at a vacant building in Boykins, to serve as a hub for growers all around the region to connect with local residents who want to live better. As Shelton describes it, the market will “provide convenience to community members who normally have to travel 30 minutes away to buy something as simple as an onion or tomato. It will provide an avenue and venue for community members to sell their crafts, products, and other items as a way to supplement income and develop income for those who need a way to generate money to meet financial obligations.” Shelton hopes the market can set an example for other communities around the region.
Shelton Muhammad is a native of Virginia Beach who has had a long career in education, including a job as assistant principle at various schools. His wife Adriene, who is from Southhampton County, is a nurse. With a history of farming in the family, they bought their property in 2009 with the desire to reconnect to the land and encourage their children to pursue a career in agriculture. So far two of their four sons have shown and interest.
When they bought the farm with the help of a loan from the Farm Services Agency, two poultry houses came along with it. They use the houses to raise chickens through a contract with Purdue. With no prior experience in farming, Shelton says the chicken business allows them the income they need to pay for the farm. But their longer term vision is to transform the farm into local food production. They have already planted grape vines, peach trees and plum trees, along with onions and watermelons. They are also getting ready to erect a hoop house so they can grow tomatoes year round. Their youngest son is interested in raising pigs. They hope to one day hold education classes on the farm to inspire more young people, particularly minorities, to pursue a career in agriculture.
The 0% SOIL Loan received by the Muhammad Family Farm from Slow Money Virginia in August 2019 is helping purchase equipment necessary to finish outfitting the building in Boykins for launch of the farmers market the fall of 2019. To get the market open, they were in need of two freezers, a freeze drying machine, a canning machine, more tables and storage, as well as a wide variety of other supplies to make needed repairs.
Please check back to this page soon with photos of the project as it progresses.