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Market Blog

December 13, 2016

Reggie’s Veggies at the Nashville Farmers’ Market

Reggie Marshall and his family come together to create a budding business, Reggie's Veggies, that retails at the Nashville Farmers' Market every Wednesday inside the Market House, and Fridays and Saturdays under the Farm Sheds. Through their combined talents, the family garners a dedicated and enthusiastic following, with each member adding something unique to what they offer. The family's market table has become a go-to for shoppers to find interesting varieties of herbs, vegetables, and greens; delicious home-baked cakes and pies; hand-made seasonal wreaths; and, of course, their most-popular array of mint infused teas that customers find to be irresistible while shopping at the market.

Reggie's Veggies consists of four team members — Reggie, Sr., wife Ingrid, Reggie, Jr., and Brian (nicknamed "Bam"). The family is warm and friendly, with an acute knowledge of farming and food, that often draws crowds around their table to stop and enjoy conversation. From the spiciness of mustard greens to the notes of grapefruit mint, they possess a magnetic way of describing the nuanced flavors of the herbs and vegetables they grow.

Reggie graduated from TSU with a degree in animal science and a minor in chemistry, back when the local food scene was not what it is today. He chose nursing school as a way to support his family, but has since found the freedom to pursue his passions.  Three years ago, on the urging of a friend, Reggie registered for TSU's New Farmer Academy program, and has been learning and growing as a farmer through his successes and failures ever since. "I've always had gardens, but I never had a lot of land to use. Now, I get to use land on TSU's campus. I can do the things I enjoy, and the local food movement has really offered me this opportunity."

The Jackson, Tenn, native grew up in a deeply-rooted farming family, and learned the practices that produce quality products from his father. "The way we do our greens is the same way we did them growing up. My father sold to grocery stores, so we always sent them clean. We never sent them dirty, so that's just what we do."

The family finds what they can grow/make/bake, and do it well, such as okra, sweet potatoes, herbs, and greens, with the addition of value-added products made with their crops, like sweet potato pies, carrot cakes, and mint teas. The varieties they grow continue to impress at the market, with 12 varieties of mint, including grapefruit, pineapple, Kentucky Colonel, and Moroccan, and  the okra variety, 'Jambalaya,' that was a huge hit at the market this past summer. Their participation at the Nashville Farmers' Market, has given Reggie's Veggies the opportunity to spark new relationships with local restaurants and chefs. "Currently, we have3 restaurants that are buying from us weekly — The Southern V, which is a Southern vegan restaurant; Veggie Village, which is Jamaican on 5th Avenue in Germantown; and Carlos Davis of Riff's Fine Foods."

What lies ahead for Reggie's Veggies is growth and expansion:  They are in the process of becoming GAP certified, have acquired access to a new commercial kitchen, and are installing hoop houses this winter to make way for new crops. Cut flower varieties will continue to increase on their market next year, and Reggie, Jr. hopes to have 40 different international varieties of peppers in cultivation, assisting the market's continued goal to meet the level of multiculturalism this city has reached. Brian, the herbalist, continues to add varieties to the list, and create new flavors of teas to please their loyal fans.

"Farming is something I swore I would never do, again," Reggie says, breaking out into a boisterous chuckle.

It seems, in Reggie's case, returning to your roots can produce a fruitful life full of happy, yet unexpected, surprises.