South Metro Neighbor November 2017 by Noreen Cochran
Tucked away in South Fulton near Langston Hughes High School and Renaissance Middle School is a stretch of land unique to the metro Atlanta area.
Here, Principal Farmer Patrick Muhammad raises grass-fed beef, goat and lamb on Your Faith Farms.
“It’s probably the healthiest meat you can get in the metro Atlanta area,” he said, citing its lower fat content and natural, stress-free upbringing.
The Muhammads, who sell their product online and at farmers markets, are their own customers, most likely opting for leg of lamb for their holiday table.
“We eat from our farm. We don’t buy meat from the store,” Muhammad said.
When they dine, it is on meat, fruit and vegetables they raise themselves on a farm they bought in 2012, he said, acquiring 30 acres and two residences for less than their house in a nearby subdivision.
“This farming is really a leap of faith; thus the name,” Muhammad said about a change in careers from his own 20 years as an elementary school principal and his wife Ishtar’s ongoing occupation as a Liberty Point Elementary School teacher.
Teacher-Farmer Ishtar Muhammad prepares activities for school groups visiting on field trips, cans vegetables and makes the children’s clothes and farm aprons.
Their daughter Ishlah, 17, and two sons Ishijah, 13, and Ishstafah, 6, also enjoy farmhouse life.
The Langston Hughes senior, dubbed the Heiress and Princess Farmer, hosts birthday parties with ponies Cocoa and Pinto.
Their sons, nicknamed the Student Farmers, are “hooked” on farming as a career, Patrick Muhammad said.
“Ishijah can run the farm in my absence,” he said.
The son had to when his dad, now 42, competed on Fox Television’s 2016 “Home Free” and won a house for teacher Dennis Tolliver; nine calves were born during the 10-week filming.
The principal farmer said he will appear again on the small screen in a Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment television series about dads, which does not have an airdate yet.
As a father, Patrick Muhammad said the farm has amplified the togetherness in his household, which includes Champion the work dog, rescue cats, a mule called Freedom and cow herd matriarch Medea.
“We’re one big two-legged and four-legged family,” he said.
His circle includes Alpha Phi Alpha frat brother Wayne Swanson of Hampton, credited – along with YouTube – in helping establish the farm for Patrick and Ishtar Muhammad, who have seven degrees between them but no formal agriculture training.
“What I wanted him to do was spend time with me for a year to make sure, before he made that kind of investment, that it was something he really wanted to do,” Swanson said. “I invited him out to come work with me on my place and after a couple of visits, I realized he was serious.”
Swanson, who offers new farmer consultations on the Swanson Family Farm Facebook page, helped his colleague navigate aspects like cattle purchases and farmers market signups, with “phenomenal” results.
“Patrick is a teacher by gift and by trade. What he is doing with his property is phenomenal,” Swanson said. “It’s just amazing to see how God gave certain people gifts. If you met him, you get that kind of feeling from him, that everything’s going to be OK. He just exudes that positive energy. I love what he’s doing and what his family is doing over there.”