From Total Loss to Sustainable Success

A hardworking family from New Orleans lost everything in Katrina including their jobs and investments. With only themselves to rely on, they started an extremely successful sustainable chicken farm.

| April 2016

The Color of Food, by Natasha Bowens, (New Society Publishers, 2015) teaches us that the food and farm movement is about more than buying local and protecting our soil. It is about preserving community, digging deeply into the places we’ve overlooked, and celebrating those who have come before us. In this excerpt, we meet Yasin Muhaimin who lost everything in hurricane Katrina. He and his wife Elaine worked to rebuild their lives as farmers, finding joy and fulfillment in their work.

Thinking about the resilience it takes to bounce back from struggle and trauma, I steer Lucille toward a region of the country that is still digging deep for the strength to overcome one of the worst hurricanes in our history. Hurricane Katrina impacted millions of lives in the South and dispersed families across states,  leaving them with nothing to rebuild their lives. The Southeastern African  American Farmers Organic Network put me in touch with a family who used their resilience, faith and passion for clean food to find new life after Katrina.

The chicken in his hand clucks wildly as I ask Yasin Muhaimin about his farm.

He swiftly puts the chicken’s neck through the metal cone used to hold it in place upside down and expertly slices its neck. Three more birds with the same fate sit in the adjacent cones. Yasin recites a takbir, a required halal prayer, under his breath as he slaughters each bird:

Bismi Allah, Allahu Akbar [With God’s Name, God is Greater]

His cousin Booga then picks the chickens up and puts them into the hot water tank and then into the defeathering machine that spins the birds around until they are bald. We stand in this outdoor chicken slaughter facility in Yasin’s expansive backyard. He continues working efficiently, and, over the sounds of clucking, he tells me the story of how he and his wife Elaine started Yard Bird Farm.

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