Ask any farmer what got them into agriculture and most of them will answer something about it being the family business or that they enjoy watching a seed grow into a product. While Roy Mosley Jr., 36, didn’t go into farming because of a generations-deep tradition, his wishes for his farm, Roy Mosley Farms, are very much rooted in family.
Mosley, a 2004 graduate of Portal High School, took classes throughout school with Dr. Tom Marshall, the agricultural teacher at Portal Middle High School. He also showed livestock throughout school and his sister, Serenity, has been showing animals for several years now — sometimes showing Mosley’s animals.
Mosley is engaged to Dashell Williams and together they have a 2-year-old, Roy Mosley III. He is also father to Dasani Sheffield (17), McKenzie Mosley (16), Averah Mosley (15) and China Mosley (8).
As far as inspiration goes, Mosley recalls being on the farm with his grandfather, Robert Lewis “RL” Williams, and helping grow vegetables as well as raise animals.
“Growing up with him, I just got a love for growing stuff and seeing it go from a seed into something that you could eat. And watching the pigs be born and all the way to the end process — we did a lot of farm butchering back then,” he said.
Mosley at first thought that he was going to get to raise one particular pig as a pet but his grandaddy said it was time to harvest it.
“Grandaddy had lots of chickens and sold brown eggs and all that stuff. He had cows. I like pigs because of the intelligence,” he said. “They’re one of the smartest farm animals there are — that’s why a lot of people don’t like them because they can outsmart you.”
He also mentions that pigs can use a variety of food sources because like humans, they’re omnivores.
“They use so many more feed stuff that other animals can’t and turn it into a useful product. They can graze, eat corn or whatever grains,” he said.
He mentions that you can use feed with blood meal or bone meal that you can’t put into cattle feed — otherwise you wind up with diseased animals. The high protein in the diet was causing Mad Cow disease because cows’ bodies aren’t designed for that level of protein.
Officially started in 2014, Roy Mosley Farms was originally located on Womack Road in Portal, but around 2018 moved to Troy Polk Road (near the Willow Hill Community in Portal).
The 13-acre pig farm on Troy Polk was a location chosen due to its vicinity to home for Mosley but also because of convenience — it was available. He also has a long-term lease on 35 acres near the Willow Hill community that he uses to grow heirloom vegetables, corn and peanuts and grain sorghum — a cousin of corn used for livestock feed.
Currently he has a breeding herd of about 50 sows and he sells big groups of feeder pigs to other farms while also retaining some of the pigs for meat products. Because he rotates the sows in and out of breeding, there could be anywhere from 30 to 100 babies on the farm at any time. To continue having a supply of pigs for his customers buying the pigs and buying the meat, he keeps a constant supply of piglets.
As far as the meat products go, Mosley’s favorite products from his farm are the bacon and sausage.
“To be USDA certified, I have to take my pigs to Williamsburg, South Carolina to Williamsburg Packing Company. They specialize in working with farmers like myself and they customize whatever I want. It’s made to my specifications, how I want them, what I want them to taste like,” he said.
After it comes back from the packaging plant, Mosley is able to do retail sales with the products because they come back packaged with his farm’s logo and the nutritional values of the products.
Currently he sells directly to customers and also in the farm store located on the farm. His products can also be found in Low Country Fresh in Bluffton, South Carolina.
The no-hormone route he practices with his animals can also stunt the availability of the supply because it takes longer for the animals to reach maturity — which takes a longer investment time on the part of the farmer and in turn, means he needs to keep his prices consistent to get a return on his investment. Some of this is the reason why his products aren’t available locally.
Mosley had a little bit of fear at the beginning of the pandemic that things would hit him hard, being a locally owned farm, but it actually turned out good for him.
“A lot of people wanted to start knowing where their food was coming from but also have a reliable source for their food,” he said. “I started selling a lot of half and whole pigs that people would get processed and put in the freezer for their families and not have to worry about it for a while.”
More people started buying vegetables fresh from local farms as well. Mosley’s heirloom vegetables aren’t the type you typically see in a grocery store — he grows a variety of squash including cushaw, butternut and patty pan.
“You won’t find those in the grocery store unless you go to a specific type of grocery store or to a farmers market,” he said.
His favorite recipe with the heirloom vegetables is to take the patty pan squash and stuff them like a bell pepper — using ground pork from his farm.
“It makes me feel good to serve a meal to my family that I know how it’s been grown. We pride ourselves on no pesticides and no hormones. Sometimes we lose crops to certain pests, but we’d rather take that route,” he said.
They’ve also done farm tours for classes such as a home school group out of Savannah where they show kids how to plant seeds and he cooked a meal for the students.
He’s also been talking with some black-owned craft breweries out of Atlanta about growing grains for them, so they came down for a farm tour and a home-grown meal as well. They plan to have some of his chef friends from South Carolina to come down and host community events on the farm as well.
Mosley’s products have also been put into taste testing in Atlanta at events and came out on top — facing up against two area farms and Publix in 2018.
Before farming, he worked doing landscaping and doing soil samples and fertilizing the grass at Georgia Southern along with flower bed maintenance. He currently works with Marsh Forestry doing a lot of the CRP work for them, which includes the longleaf initiative program.
His goal for the farm is to grow the farm store’s popularity and have more opportunity for classes for children.
“I’d like to eventually turn it into a learning hub and expand to more sows — I’m hoping for 100 if the opportunity presents itself,” he said.
Space can be limiting but also, he’s typically a one-man operation, hiring temporary help when needed.
One major source of pride for Mosley is the fact that he is one of the few black farmers left.
“There’s a stigmatism when it comes to young black guys farming. I’d like to take that out and show that it’s actually something you might like. We make up only 8% of the U.S. farming population,” he said. “If we don’t get more people into it now, it’ll be a thing of the past. If one generation had a bad experience, the next generation doesn’t want anything to do with it.”
The Willow Hill area was a largely black-owned farming area and the 35 acres where he currently farms had not been farmed by a black farmer since the land owner’s father (the land owners are in their 70s). The owners, Vivian Green and her sister, were actually so moved by this and the work that Mosley had put into the farm, that they gave him his first year’s land rent check back. That came at a time when he was wondering how he was going to afford to purchase fertilizer.
While Mosley has been recognized by Black Farmers Nationwide as the Farmer of the Month and the Atlanta Blackstar Newspaper, perhaps the most impressive thing about the farm is that one of his goals is that he has his own hybrid breed of pig.
Other goals he has are to have his own breed of pig, the Mosley Grazer, own a purebred herd of Berkshires as well as continue to grow the farm for his son to take over. He’d also like to add chickens to the operation eventually and bring his mother, Linda Williams into the mix with her farm eggs.
Perhaps the most unique thing about Roy Mosely Farms is that Mosley put a lot of work into the genetics of his pigs — he takes the Berkshire breed for it’s marbling in the meat (known as the Black Angus of pork) and breeds them with other hybrid pigs — mixtures of Blue Butts, known for their larger litters of piglets; Hampshires, known for their longer rib area which means more bacon; and the Duroc breed, which has growth power and matures faster than some of the other breeds. He also includes the Large Black breed into the mix because it doesn’t take as much protein to make them grow — the Large Black is known as a lard breed because it converts forage better than higher muscle breeds.
They also feed the animals differently.
“They are able to graze on five-, six- and seven-way mixes in the pastures to give them a totally different mix of grasses and grains than your hog-house pigs. The pigs are treated the same way from birth to sale, giving them the same food products,” he said.
In addition to his grandfather, the inspiration behind his farming career, Mosley also credits his Aunt La Polk for allowing him to use the 13 acres where his pig farm is located as well as Elliot Marsh and “Doc” Marshall for helping to foster his love for animals and agriculture. He also credits JJ Lee and Jeff Spence, local farmers, for their help with his crops this year — this was Mosley’s first time growing peanuts and he credits them with helping him have a “pretty good crop.”
Mosley’s roots may not run as deep in farming as some of the local farmers in Bulloch County, but he is definitely getting noticed in the industry for his high-quality products and his growing methods. Be sure and follow his farm page on social media to find out more about upcoming farm events.