Shining Light on Shady Grove
Driving down the long dirt road to Shady Grove Blueberry Farm, my anticipation builds for the possibilities to come. I’ve never been much of a farmer, but the desire to dedicate my time to the growth and development of something special burns within my spirit. So it’s providential that since I met Ms. Josie Gbadamosi in the Spring of 2017, that I have not been able to stay away from the farm.
Ms.Gbadamosi (pronounced Bod-a-moh-see) started this agricultural journey in 2010 and is now going into her seventh year of ownership. She has new ideas and modern methods that will continue the legacy of Dr. Booker T Whatley and his belief in sustainable agriculture.
When Ms. Gbadamosi retired in May of 2010, she put away her briefcase and picked up a pitchfork. This transition started when she joined a water aerobics class and met a woman who told her about a blueberry farm. She decided that she would go to the farm but nothing more than a short visit was on her mind. Driving there, she got lost and ran into a man named Mr. Love. After chewing her out about people intruding on private property, he finally told her where the farm was located. After seeing how overgrown the farm was and later discovering that it hadn’t been properly managed in years, she decided to buy the land herself. By September of 2010, she had literally bought the farm.
Ms. Gbadamosi entered into agriculture with no knowledge, so she began to learn more about blueberries and their health benefits. Although the work may have seemed overwhelming to some people, she tackled it head on. And with the help of the Tuskegee community and Tuskegee University students, the blueberry farm is up and running. She is “so blessed because of the encouragement from students and the university.”
PRESENT AND FUTURE
She isn’t just stopping at blueberries either. In 2016, she partnered with Farmscape Solutions “to help in reestablishing the farm as a model farm much like Dr. Whatley’s original vision.” Farmscape Solutions is “an organization dedicated to building good health and common wealth in communities through local farm-based economic development.” Farmscape Solutions helps to grow ingredients such as turmeric, hibiscus, and moringa that go into Josie’s teas.
In the summertime when the blueberries are in season, she runs a U-pick operation, which means people can visit the farm and pick their own berries at an affordable price. She also makes her own products like blueberry preserves and tea leaves. When people come to help out on the farm she enjoys letting them try her liquid blueberry tea which she is currently trying to get on the market. When not on the farm she takes her products to local farmers’ markets and festivals. She has a vision for expansion that includes a commercial kitchen.
Josie prides herself on growing organic and affordable products. With all that she is doing, the future looks very bright for Ms. Josie Gbadamosi and the Shady Grove Blueberry Farm.
609 County Rd. 81
Tuskegee, AL 36083