Martin Family Farm Produce is a family owned fresh produce business that has been in operation for over 100 years. Currently the farm is operated by Jeannette Horn, Larry Martin, Joyce Bowden, Robert Wayne Martin, and occasionally their younger siblings Anthony Martin, and Elizabeth Louise Meggett.
The Martin Family Farm has a rich history beginning with the sibling's great grandfather, Harry Martin, who purchased the land that they farm today in 1883, shortly after the end of slavery. This is the fourth generation of Martins to own and operate the farm. They are descended from a long line of agriculturists and landowners. Before Harry purchased land, he was a member of the Union Army’s United States Colored Troops 135 Battalion, Company H, from 1864 to 1865.
Harry married Bessie Smith in 1871 and they had their first child in 1874. Nine years later, in 1883 (18 years after the end of the Civil War) the couple bought their first acre of land right here in Grantham and continued to amass real estate until 1912.
Not only did Harry till the soil to grow food, he built structures that remain on the farm today. Before his death in 1923, Harry wrote his last will and testament and provided land and cash for each of his children. He believed in the values of family and sought to protect their future by leaving a legacy for them to build off of.
The primary crop the Martin family has grown changed with each generation. During Harry’s generation, cotton was king. But his son, Richard Allen, concentrated on tobacco. The siblings' father grew a mixture of tobacco, corn, soybeans and truck crops as well as cucumbers, squash, and peppers for auction at the Faison Produce Market during their childhood.
Now our brother, Larry Martin, is the current CEO of all farming operations on the farm, and focuses on growing corn, soybeans and row crops. When tobacco production declined he began experimenting with other crops such as mushrooms and now hemp.
In 2018, Joyce moved back home from Philadelphia after 40 years. She needed a change of scenery after the passing her late husband in 2016, and decided to get back to her roots. In her retirement, she and older sister Jeannette, decided to embark on the journey of small-business ownership and start working at the local farmer's market using the skills they were taught as children. It has been one heck of a ride, with non-stop twists and turns but the ladies are enjoying every minute of it especially as they get to reconnect with nature and pass down their own values and wisdom to their kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews.
Jeanette Horn (left) and Joyce Bowden (right), owners of Martin Family Farm Produce.