Meet The Team!

Jamel Rahkeera, the team captain, was once a successful welder, while changing his lifestyle to one of optimal health he saw the need to grow his own food, so he started a community garden that not only fed his family but six others in the Historic Hough neighborhood. A self cultivated trailblazer and pioneer for urban agriculture in Cleveland Ohio, Jamel leads the team that transformed abandoned plots of land into Cleveland’s first black owned and operated farm and farmers market. Growing up in the same neighborhood as the farm, he wanted to see this neighborhood be a better place than the one he grew up in and definitely not what it had become. With his love and passion for healthy living coupled with a strong family foundation Jamel spearheads projects to empower, educate, and employ aged out foster youth in the fields of urban agriculture, urban apiculture, as well as urban ecological conservation, preservation, and rehabilitation. It is this same passion for food access and community that has Jamel setting up Village markets in Cleveland’s largest senior communities and in the food deserts of Cleveland, building up the Historical Hough neighborhood from the Village out as Cleveland’s urban agricultural epicenter.
Brother Jafar, the farm manager, a generational farmer that was born and raised in the big city, gained his passion for food working as a restaurant manager. Starting his first garden at 7, Jafar learned farming techniques from his mother that had been passed down from her mother and the many farmers before her. Dealing with obesity Jafar decided he needed to eat better, working with food his entire life he knew the only way he was going to get the freshest produce available was to grow it himself. Partnering with Jamel in 2009 as part as the community garden, they formed TEAMGROW to operate Village Family Farms and teach the community about growing, preparing and insuring access to fresh foods. Jafar working his garden lifestyle gives the community the working know how on how to eat local and in season while growing the most nutrient rich produce, to achieve optimal health. Teaching and sharing his urban farming know how Jafar continues to grow the Village by training sessions, holding workshops and working shoulder to shoulder with interns and volunteers.
Coach Josh, being an athlete understands the need to have access to fresh foods, as well the necessity of our youth to have an understanding of where food comes from, Coach Josh incorporates his basketball coaching into the needs of the farm. Here he emphasizes the need for teamwork to encourage his team to be able to work together, as well as get their work out in for the day. His teams get to learn about food, from seed to stomach in addition to basketball.
Brother Ben, the Village Elder is the spiritual advisor of the team, it is his wisdom and guidance that created the ankh walkway (Kemetic symbol for life and creation) as well as the living ankh he carved himself from one of the trees that had to be cut down. It was also the elder’s wisdom to put a pond in the eye of the ankh creating the ancestral honoring landscape that we have today. With 40 plus years of eating for optimal health Brother Ben assists the team in growing the most nutrient rich foods possible and helps to set up programs to empower the community with the knowledge of optimal health. Encouraging the team to frequently pay homage to their ancestors and function as a village will humbly tell you he is only the grounds keeper.
Reggie “RJ” Campbell was the first intern with the Village and TEAMGROW. Being a third generation urban farmer the internship with the village stimulated RJ to expand his existing garden to another lot utilizing growing techniques he was able to perfect with the Village. Since his internship with the Village RJ has grown his own farm “Fruit from the Sun” that provides a safe space for neighborhood children to come and learn about growing food.