FAIRBURN, Ga. - Patrick Muhammad and his wife Ishtar have learned a lot of lessons since they purchased their 31-acre farm in Fairburn six years ago. They raise chickens, horses, grass-fed cows, and sheep on a spot they call Your Faith Farms. The couple used to have a quiet, but steady flow of customers. But since the coronavirus pandemic, business picked up with consumers looking for fresher options without the grocery store crowds.
"If nothing else that we've learned from this COVID-19 situation is that overnight the world changes and our food is impacted and effected," Muhammad told a group of parents, adolescents, and teens who visit the Jones Road farm on a Saturday in July. Mercedes Larkin of DeKalb County was one of several mothers who visited that day.
"With COVID-19, we have not been going out as often and so my daughter had a desire to learn how to grow her own vegetables, so I knew this would be a good experience," said Larkin, a wife, and mother of three.
That's why Patrick, who is also the principal of Chattahoochee Hills Charter School, spends a lot of time talking to the youngest visitors about the importance of growing food at home. He even spends time talking about how to raise healthy animals that produce healthy eggs and meat.
"What I would encourage all families to do is grow where you are. No matter where you live, no matter what the circumstances, you have to start growing now. It's just the healthier option in this day and age," said Muhammad, who gets help on the farm from his elementary school-aged son and his daughter, who attends Spelman College.
Derrick Montgomery said the farm-to-table lessons made him think twice about starting his own garden at home in Atlanta.
"To hear how food is processed and how healthy we can be if we grow our own food, it's really not that difficult," said Montgomery.
Sanaa Harris, 13, had never visited a farm before her trip to Your Faith Farms. She told FOX 5’s Portia Bruner she looks forward to returning.
"I learned how the right way to harvest vegetables and how, if you raise healthy animals, your food will be healthier to eat," said Harris. "I definitely want to come back for the horseback riding."
Beyond the meat and vegetables, that spark of interest in growing healthy food is what the Muhammads hope everyone will take with them after a visit to their farm.
"We didn't start out like this. We were inspired to buy land and my family and I stepped out on Faith. That's why it's 'Your Faith Farms' and now we own our land, we raise our own vegetables and all of our meat. I still can’t believe people pay me to give them buckets of horse manure. It's fertilizer, but it's gold," he told the parents and students as he chuckled. “And I just want you all to know you can do this, too."