ERICTOUREM -Contributing Writer-
DETROIT–“It’s a little funny that I am receiving an award for something I’m really passionate about and absolutely love. This is special. And absolutely special to me,” exclaimed a surprised and humbled farmer Sis. Betsy Jean Farrakhan, daughter of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and first generation farmer in the Farrakhan family.
On Feb. 19, as part of Saviours’ Day 2016, the Nation of Islam’s Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) held its first annual awards banquet at the Detroit Muslim Center. The event honored 15 believers for their tireless work in advancing the efforts of Muhammad Farms and the MOA. Sis. Betsy Jean received MOA’s first Farmer of the Year recognition.
Over the past 14 months, her work on the farm in New Buffalo, Mich., her encouragement of today’s youth to take up the challenge of agriculture and farming, as well as her very successful organizing of the Nation of Islam’s first “Michigan Farm-Agriculture Workshop” in 2015, led to being awarded the prestigious honor.
Sis. Betsy Jean answered the invitation from Muhammad Farms Director Dr. Ridgely Muhammad to attend and speak to the gathering but was not told of her award. She learned of it approximately 10 minutes before her talk to the more than 150 in attendance.
“I was so impressed this past year when I came to the Minister’s farm for the agricultural-educational program that Sis. Betsy Jean Farrakhan set up. I was impressed not only by the quality of the information, but with the spirit she generated in the young people and that came,” reflected Dr. Muhammad. “It takes certain people to inspire our people to do certain things and Sis. Betsy Jean has proven that she has that ability,” he said.
In keeping with the theme “It takes a farm to feed a village. It takes a village to support a farm,” all foods were provided, raised and harvested from Muhammad Farms, Staple Goods Project, the Bronwood Bakery and the ABLE Project. This unified effort from across the United States proved the power and success of MOA’s new farm business paradigm.
A $700 raw crop cost, cooking and preparing the food themselves and being in full control of its retail function – supported by the Nation Of Islam community — allowed the event to gross more than five times its raw crop investment, netting a near 400 percent profit.
Sis. Betsy Jean was deeply moved to be in the company of an audience primarily made up of farmers and those with an appreciation for land acquisition.
“As my father travels, he is offered hundreds of thousands of acres from many countries. And we have to be in position of obtaining the knowledge and then actually go out and teach others and then acquire the land that they are offering,” she said. “I am the first generation of farmers in my family along with my illustrious husband Brother Maurice.
“I thank Allah for the opportunity and for my father showing the way. I took up farming and absolutely fell in love with it. No day finds me tired (of farming). I might be tired at the end of the day from working hard, but the concept and idea of farming I am never tired from,” she said.
Other awardees included, Sis. Natalie Muhammad (Hartford, Conn.), Bro. Jason X Kyles (Memphis, Tenn.), Sis. Martha Muhammad (Memphis, Tenn.), Bro. Horatio Muhammad (Montgomery, Ala.), Bro. Terrence Muhammad (Phoenix, Ariz.), Bro. Louis Ali (Baton Rouge, La.), Bro. Shakir Jones (Charlotte, N.C.), and the husband and wife team of Bro. Rico and Sis. Lasanya Muhammad (Atlanta, Ga.).
In addition to Dr. Ridgely’s revolutionary poetry, entertainment was provided by husband and wife singing duo Bro. William and Sis. Panelia Muhammad (Louisville, Ky.) and poetry from Sis. Rashida Muhammad (Tulsa, Okla.).