In March 2013, when twin brothers, Obiora and Irucka Ajani Embry, visited, for the first time, the two acres (now called Getting Back to
Nature™ @ Martin Acres) they had requested for growing food on their eighth‐generation, black‐owned family farm,
Martin Acres, they knew it would be an up‐hill battle
because the soil was not fertile. Through Obiora’s reading of
The Holistic Orchard: Tree Fruits and Berries the Biological Way by Michael Phillips, he knew that trees
thrive in an alkaline (fungal dominant) soil; however, there were tell‐tale signs that the soil was acidic (bacterial dominant). This
led Obiora and Irucka to utilize their previous experiences with growing food & information they gleaned from elders, books, conferences, and
other resources to start improving the soil. Due to their family’s rich legacy and because of their non‐standard way of regenerating soil
and growing food, they were interviewed in May 2020 for an article in the
Middle Tennessee Local Table Magazine’s 2020 Annual Guide.
Their initial idea of planting heirloom trees and perennials paid off, even though the soil was too depleted for their survival, as the
series of unfortunate events made their commitment to Getting Back to Nature™ stronger. The brothers had to
re‐evaluate their approach and began to dig deeper into forgotten "southern foods." This is food that was (and is hopefully still)
eaten by the original inhabitants who lived in the area. However, partly due to a
planned disconnect of humans from Nature and the growing and/or foraging of food, our collective food intelligence has dwindled. Thus Irucka and
Obiora have been re‐learning about these and other forgotten foods. Obiora and Irucka grew diverse native plants in the early years, and with the help of a now
deceased cousin, Kevin C. Martin, they started to realize that some of the purchased plants were already growing at Martin Acres!
Along with the native perennials growing on their two acres, the twins sow heirloom annuals and forage wild plants to use in their diverse
value‐added products. Through their similar but different agricultural
practices they have been transforming the once fallow grazing land into a food ecosystem. Obiora and Irucka do NOT irrigate, but try to put plants where they would be
found in Nature. By growing in this manner and by continuing to create healthy soil, even when there is a drought, the plants are often resilient.
In 2018, Obiora stopped talkin’ about it and started making artisanal products to sell. He tired of going to grocery stores and reading
the long ingredient list of "simple" products, and wanted to become the change that he sought.