Florida Newsroom

Finding, coaching and training public media’s next generation.

“In the Time of COVID-19”

is a set of audio and digital stories highlighting the experiences of people whose lives have changed dramatically during the pandemic.

Farmers at Smarter by Nature are tending to their community and their crops to cultivate their business. By maintaining a social media presence, the couple has been able to increase their profit during a global economic and health crisis.

Illustrated by Natalia Polanco

Two farmers, one mission–– how a Tallahassee couple adapted to the pandemic


Angelique Taylor and David “Kip” Ritchey, had plans to distribute microgreens from their regenerative, small-scale farm in Quincy, Fl, to restaurants in the Tallahassee area in late February. But, once the pandemic hit, restaurants closed down, and they weren’t able to get a consistent supply of quality seeds to grow more reliable, long-term crops.

At the same time, fewer people were visiting the farmers’ market where Taylor and Ritchey sold produce every weekend. Overall, they say they lost 20% of their sales.

Two farmers, one mission–– how a Tallahassee couple adapted to the pandemic

by Noella Williams | Next Generation Radio | Florida Newsroom | January 2021

Angelique Taylor and David “Kip” Ritchey plant onions at their farm in Quincy, FL on a cold Tuesday morning. (Photo by Noella Williams)

“When we created Smarter by Nature, we wanted to create a symbol that really represented the future of agriculture and a more sustainable and really inclusive way into farming,” Taylor said. 

Taylor and Ritchey have been a couple for five years, and established Smarter by Nature, LLC in December 2017.

“We use regenerative practices that build the soil and build the health of the soil, so that we can grow nutritious food for our local community,” Taylor said. Regenerative farming is the practice of reversing the effects of climate change by restoring previously degraded soil. 

The couple’s mission is to build sustainable relationships by hosting workshops and sharing methods of growing food at home with people who are curious about farming, gardening, and nature. 

Angelique Taylor, 27, and David “Kip” Ritchey, 30, have been a couple for five years. They began Smarter by Nature in 2017. (Photo by Noella Williams)

“We grow healthy food and bring that to our community, which doesn’t have that many choices and access to fresh quality food,” Taylor said.

Near Taylor and Ritchey’s farm, Tallahassee’s Frenchtown is a predominantly Black neighborhood and a food desert. Florida’s poorest zip code, 32304, is a short distance away. Due to the absence of grocery stores and organic food options, Taylor and Ritchey bring oyster mushrooms, Nigerian spinach, mustard greens, marigold flowers, and more fresh produce to their vending table at the Saturday morning Frenchtown Heritage Market. There, customers have the ability to use SNAP, EBT or WIC as a form of currency. The market partners with the nonprofit organization Fresh Access Bucks to match the customer’s SNAP/EBT purchase to double their rewards.

Taylor and Ritchey see their role in the community as going beyond selling fruits and vegetables.   

“I believe our role is to be a glimmer of hope for people and inspiration, because a lot of people say that they want to learn how to grow, but they have never grown before,” Taylor said.

“And we were just like that. We didn’t grow up as farmers and have a farming background.”

Once shutdowns began, the plan for Smarter by Nature to collaborate with restaurants was no longer an option. 

“We were growing,” Ritchey said. “We had a track in mind pretty much, and the pandemic was like an incoming storm.” 

In addition to a loss of sales, they had fewer volunteers due to safety restrictions, and nearly half of their customers stopped attending the farmers’ market. 

This shifted the way that Taylor and Ritchey communicated with their customers to let them know that their fresh produce was still available. In order to provide a safe, contactless option for groceries, they joined the online nonprofit organization, Red Hills Online Farmers’ market. 

“Customers order their produce on Red Hills, and there are scheduled days for curbside pickup or can opt for delivery,” the couple said. “Outside of Red Hills, customers might contact us via Instagram or Facebook and schedule a pick up of available produce.”

As for now, they are planning to adapt by hosting their workshops virtually, and they are currently allowing volunteers onto their farm while maintaining safety precautions. Because of an elevated interest in stay-at-home cooking since the pandemic began, their sales actually increased with their consistent social media activity. So overall, the couple says the pandemic changed their business for the better. 

“It caused us to solidify our purpose and be more inclusive of our online community.” 

But the past few months really strengthened their relationship, too.

“We already spend our time together, and we study like every day all the time,” Ritchey said. “So, it just helped fortify our relationship, both personal and business.”

Ritchey and his partner are vendors at the Frenchtown Heritage Market. The farmers’ market is held every Saturday morning in Tallahassee, FL. (Photo courtesy of Angelique Taylor)

Taylor and Ritchey did not grow up with a farming background, so through social media and workshops they share their story to show others that it’s possible to grow sustainably at home. (Photo courtesy of David “Kip” Ritchey)

About NextGenRadio

The Next Generation Radio Project is a week-long digital journalism training project designed to give competitively selected participants, who are interested in radio and journalism, the skills and opportunity to report and produce their own multimedia story. Those chosen for the project are paired with a professional journalist who serves as their mentor.

This edition of the #NPRNextGenRadio project was produced in collaboration with WUSF Public Media in January 2021.


Audio engineers Selena Seay-Reynolds and Ellis Munoz
Visuals team lead Erica Lee,  New Jersey-based freelance journalist, with Kevin Beaty of The Denverite and Colorado Public Radio.
Illustration team lead Yunyi Dai with Emily Whang and Ard Su
Digital Editor Alexis Richardson, Chief Innovation Officer, and Digital Strategist, “The Mom Edit,” based in Philadelphia.
Robert Boos of Metropolitan State in Minneapolis is our Web Developer.

Our journalist/mentors for this project were:
Gabriela Saldivia, independent journalist based in Spain.
Mark Schreiner, Reporter/Host at WUSF Tampa
Jessica Meszaros, Reporter/Host at WUSF Tampa.
Leslie Ovalle, Producer at WLRN Miami.
Molly Samuel, Environmental Reporter for WABE Atlanta.
Our Managing Editor this week was Amy Tardif, Regional Manager for StoryCorps, based in Chicago

NPR’s Next Generation Radio program is directed by its founder, Doug Mitchell.