Interview with Yasmeen Sabir from Carver’s Produce
Carver’s Produce is a new food distributor which provides access to fresh organic produce and halal meats. The organic products are selected and reviewed by industry experts to ensure quality and satisfaction. The meats are halal and humanely raised and slaughtered on farms in Georgia and New Jersey. Who’s behind this endeavor? Check out our interview with this dynamic leader and renaissance woman, Yasmeen Sabir.
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Sapelo Square: Can you share with our readers what led you to develop Carver’s Produce?
Yasmeen Sabir: I always had a yearning in my soul to work for my community, to develop a business that would help the community. Being a student of Imam [WD] Mohammed, he always taught us that businesses support the Masjid and the community. My father was an entrepreneur. He was the west coast director for American Muslim Mission Committee to Purchase 100,000 commodities (AMMCOP). That was a collective buying movement that Imam Mohammed started in the 1980’s. Under AMMCOP Muslims could buy large quantities of clothes, shoes, fish, appliances, etc. at wholesale prices and sell them in their local communities across the US.¹ Our family had a co-op in San Diego, CA. My father also had a landscaping company. I [developed] a love for the environment, and a love for community.
¹ C. G. Bunn “Prayers and Profits,” Black Enterprise, December 1983, 4:28; Sharif, African American Image.
My Father passed away in 2011, [simultaneously] I didn’t do well in a class, and so my professor gave me an assignment to assess, define, and solve a problem within an urban community. That was a turning point for me. I had already set out a plan to graduate, work for a corporation, make a six-figure salary, and as I got closer to graduation I felt an urgency to sacrifice that dream. At Tuskegee University I was able to study sustainable development as well as agricultural economics. I found that urban and rural communities suffer from health and economic disparities because of lack of access to fresh produce, and I knew this was an issue to tackle.
Carver’s Produce is an initiative from Build for Humanity Development Group. We are providing educational and training opportunities to farmers and youth with an emphasis to sustain our communities and the local agricultural economy.
SS: How is the local Atlanta community supporting Carver’s Produce?
YS: Metro Atlanta is a food desert. The city of Atlanta has given us their support, the health department of Fulton County, as well as DeKalb County, Georgia, and the East Lake Community Cultural Society. The people of the community want to see this happen, and it is so humbling to have the support. This project can not work without the people.
The support from the Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam has been phenomenal. The current resident Imam, Sulaimaan Hamed, has a food security initiative called, The Eat To Live Project. This project is supposed to educate the members of the community about holistic wellness, healthy nutrition, as well as learning about the Carver’s Buying Club benefits.
SS: What is your ultimate intention with the development of Carver’s Produce? And when is the official website launch?
YS: This is a national food security program. We want to make sure our supply chain and our process flow is effective and efficient. We are working on phase one, which is to establish sixty clubs in the south-east region of the United States. We intend to expand employment, economic prosperity, and sustainable environments for all. Our food security program helps farmers, processors, and distribution networks to effectively source their products while increasing market visibility. We are linking the regional farm affiliates who are with Carver’s Produce to the Buying Club site.
The website and membership launch will be the beginning of Black History Month. This is to pay homage to the ancestors that came before us, to contribute to the work, and to empower others.
SS: Do you have any advice for community members looking to start a business?
YS: [Carver’s Produce] started as a dream. In order for us to push forward to our collective destiny we have to get over our fears. If you have a dream that can liberate other people step out on faith, and watch what Allah can do, watch what Allah can do!
SS: How can some one get in touch with you if they would like to know how to replicate what you have done in your community or reach out to you for consulting opportunities?
YS: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The website launch and official membership sign up is February 1, 2016: www.carversproduce.com
Also check out Carver’s Produce vibrant instagram account for recipe ideas, motivational quotes, and updates on the business!
As Director of Expansion for Build For Humanity, she’s responsible for securing implementation and fostering smart growth projects that stop urban sprawl. Through this medium she seeks to educate, discuss, and strike up a national dialogue to address home-grown solutions to generate environmental consciousness, especially among the youth. She is passionate about urban sustainability, agriculture, recycling, and renewable energy.
She has worked as an advocate for sustainable agriculture, youth & women empowerment, and social entrepreneurship.
All images © Yasmeen Sabir & Carver’s Produce