Here at Good Citizen, we advocate for restorative initiatives in our community. We believe that good stewardship is a central tenet of healthy communities - knowing that nature and work are a union that centers around humility, respect, and skill. This is why we partnered with Reggie Marshall to support small farmers that practice sustainable agriculture and community stewardship.
Who is Reggie Marshall, and what does he do?
Reggie Marshall started working early on in life at his family farm in Jackson, TN - raising hogs and growing vegetables. After completing his first degree in animal science, he decided to do more with agriculture. In 2015, Reggie attended the New Farmers Academy at Tennessee State University, where he gained land access to start the beginnings of his vegetable business.
Until recently, urban farming had only been a part-time venture for Reggie. Prior to running his farm and educating his community, he spent 15 years as an ICU nurse before retiring in 2020 as House Supervisor for St. Thomas Hospital. This role helped Reggie understand the value and impact of nutrition. He saw his role in the health care community as an opportunity to meet the physical needs of patients by providing them access to his fresh produce at the hospital.
How does Reggie give back to his community?Reggie believes in riding slow trains and building strong foundations. Health is about wholeness, and the caretakers who nurture these healthy communities by tending to the well-being of their members.
Reggie is currently working to bring 4-H clubs to Knowledge Academies and Two Rivers Middle School in Nashville. Through this work, he is providing young students with agricultural skills that will afford them significant opportunities within the agriculture industry while also contributing to the immediate needs in their communities.
Additionally, Reggie is working to establish a farmers market in the JC Napier community, close to downtown Nashville, for his students to benefit financially from the produce they learn to grow.
How does Reggie give back to the Earth?Working with the Earth is about working with what you got. Sustainable agriculture should always be reusable. This is why Reggie works to repurpose organic waste from food supply chains. Funneling back waste as fertilizer helps keep the food supply chain regenerative and productive.
Reggie collects and composts coffee waste for the betterment of his farm. Thick and cloddy soil can reform with the help of cardboard, mulch, and coffee grounds to increase nutrient content throughout the mixture. Coffee chaff (the papery skin of the coffee bean which flakes off during roasting) increases soil texture and improves its structure to ensure optimal water and air absorption.
What makes Reggie a leader?Reggie isn't a rabble-rouser. As president of the Fruit and Vegetable Association for Tennessee, he leads with a passion and works to empower underserved communities and provide them with the skills and resources to sustain themselves.
Another way Reggie leads is by advocating for the Heirs Property Relending Program. This USDA program helps keep farmland in farming, protect family fam legacies, and support economic viability. This program attempts to mend historically discriminatory practices surrounding land ownership for Black farmers. Reggie believes that honest narratives of success contribute to hopeful outcomes for resolve within communities.
What are Reggie's next steps?In 2017, Reggie was recognized as the National Lloyd Wright Small Farmer of the Year through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). With access to more compostable organic waste, Reggie plans to expand his planting beds over the next three years by adding two more acres of sowable soil to his property. Reggie is also building a produce stand at his 2.6-acre farm to provide farm fresh product to his neighbors.
How does Good Citizen Coffee Co. continue expanding its partnership with Reggie to support sustainability?We plan to continue supporting Reggie's work and initiatives across the Nashville community through collaboration and advocacy. Our goal is to develop and implement a replicable model for regenerative waste for the broader coffee community.
Along with two scientists from the University of Tennessee, we have begun a project that will allow Reggie to develop a compostable alternative to chemical fertilizers. Fertilizer prices have practically doubled since the summer of 2020. At the end of 2021, prices had increased an additional 30% since the beginning of the year.
Rising supply costs threaten the existence of small farming communities. Through our efforts, we hope to inspire and encourage the coffee industry to seek out stewards in their communities with whom they might be able to do good work.
Beyond the Brew is a place for all things education, inspiration, and transparency for biodiverse farming and sustainable coffee consumption through Good Citizen. If you have any questions or requests, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org