Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin - is the co-founder of Tree Range Farms – a Minnesota-based company – which provides regeneratively-raised chickens, hazelnuts, maple syrup and more…..by growing an ecosystem instead of a crop.
A native of Guatamala, Regi has worked with farmers there and in many other countries…..but for the past several years, he has been focusing his energy within the state of Minnesota.
I met Regi years a few ago at a regenerative agriculture conference and was immediately impressed by his deep knowledge, his message about the need transform the food industry – and the authentic way he lives out what he talks about.
Regi is a hero of mine…..successfully building a regenerative company from the ground up that is truly transforming the poultry model.
The Tree Range Farms example shines a light on a key piece of the puzzle for fixing our food system – the importance of building a system that is a reflection of the holistic tendencies of nature……a system that prioritizes observation first and foremost……and as a result….is able to mimic the interconnectedness of things that nature has perfected over so many years.Support the show
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About something you said in one of your presentations.There's a difference between being alive and living, and I think that's that's part of what you're talking about with this whole system.Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Quinn, I said it's not just free ranging, but tree ranging is because chickens are supposed to be out there in the open space.That's the natural habitat.To the extent that you limit that, you're also limiting the potential of that animal, that creature, that living organism.And then ranging under the trees allows them to actually completely transform the way they express themselves.Sara Harper:
Back to our podcast Tasting Terroir, a journey that explores the link between healthy soil and the flavor and health of your food.I'm your host, Sarah Harper.That was a clip from my feature interview with Rehinaldo Haslett Merriquin, co founder of Tree Range Farms, a Minnesota based company which provides regeneratively raised chickens,hazelnuts, maple syrup and more.Rehy is not only the co founder of this fantastic company, he's also a regenerative farmer with Salvatora Farms and is the founder of the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance.His past experiences include working on economic development projects around Latin America, serving as a consultant for the United Nations, and being a founding member of the Fair Trade Federation.A native of Guatemala, Rehi has also worked with farmers there and in many other countries, but for the past several years, he has been focusing his energy within the state of Minnesota.I met Rehi a few years ago at a Regenerative agriculture conference and was immediately impressed by his deep knowledge, his message about the need to transform the food industry and the authentic way he lives out what he talks about.If you've listened to my other podcast episodes, you know I can get a little punchy around the topic of big food companies marketing regenerative more than they actually do it.That anger comes in part because marketing can make it appear that people are doing more than what they are and more than what they could.And that takes away from the potential market share of people like Rehi and the team that works with him, who are truly transforming the industries they operate in from the way they treat the people that work with them to the animals, to the larger ecosystem that supports their crops.Rehi is a hero of mine, putting into action successfully what so many other dreamers have failed to do.Trust me.You will want to stay tuned for this listening treat as you hear about the holistic system that Rehi and his team have created.A system that is producing some of the healthiest and tastiest chicken around.If you're passionate about food, health and the planet, chances are you're seeking unbiased information and valuable insights to thrive as a farmer, food company or conscious eater.Look no further.We've created a private online network,exclusively funded by our members to do the hard work of curating and creating the best resources tailored to your needs.Become a member of our private, ad free online community, global food and Farm community and unlock a world of possibilities benefit from ongoing access to the expertise of Dr. Jill Claperton, a renowned soil health scientist and consultant.Additionally, take advantage of the vetted and original content we provide you to enhance soil health, deliver healthier food to your customers, effectively communicate the added value you provide, and apply regenerative principles to your own garden or shopping list.Ready to join the movement towards a regenerative future?Visit member Globalfoodandfarm.That's all spelled out Member Globalfoodandfarm.com and sign up for a free three day trial experience.Firsthand, the benefits of our exclusive ad free community made possible by our incredible members.We extend our heartfelt thanks to all our members.You are the driving force behind our podcast and the work we do to help support the regenerative agriculture movement.Together, let's cultivate a healthier planet one seed at a time.To become a member, visit Member globalfoodandfarm.com.We've explored many different ways in which healthier soil has a direct impact on the flavor and health of our food.In this podcast, from blueberries to beef and a lot in between, we have learned together that farm philosophy and practice makes a big difference to us all.The Tree Range Farms example shines a light on another key piece of the puzzle for fixing our food system the importance of building a system that is a reflection of the holistic tendencies of nature.A system that prioritizes observation first and foremost, and as a result, is able to mimic the interconnectedness of things that nature has perfected over so many years.Get ready to meet your new favorite farmer and food system reformer, rahinaldo Haslett Maroquin.I am lucky to have gotten to meet you and gotten to see you speak in all sorts of different events.But for those who don't know you, could you just introduce yourself?Rahee?Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Yeah. Reynaldo Haslett Marukin and I'm owner and co founder of Tree Wrench Farms is the market facing arm of a Regenta poultry ecosystem of businesses that we have launched.And our job is to contract the product from the producers, brand them, market, distribute and pull the system into the next stage of development here.Sara Harper:
And I checked your website recently and you have an impressive number of outlets.It seems like more and more people can buy your chickens locally.Is that connected to where the farmers are?Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Well, actually,that's a question better directed to Jennifer.Do you want to introduce yourself and answer that?Because that's your department.Speaker D:
You're not going to let me out of this?Sara Harper:
I'm Jennifer Zapeda.I'm the Chief of Staff at Tree Range Farms and my role is to sort of get things organized.My specialty is in marketing and sales.And of our producers currently producing chickens alongside Tree Range Farms, seven of them are located in Minnesota and two are in Wisconsin.We are 100% underserved or emerging farmers.And of our 24 retail outlets, I believe all of them are located in Minnesota.So, yes, all of them are within one to 2 hours of every farmer within our network very soon.Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Just stay tuned,we'll be announcing new online marketing partners.Sara Harper:
Great, because I know at least I think there is real demand for what you're doing once people find out what it is you're doing.And so to start it off, tree range chickens,I've heard you talk about this before, but maybe explain to people what's the connection of the tree and why tree range instead of free range boys?Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Both no animal on the planet evolved in confinement and no animal on the planet, including us, no organism ever evolved alone.Well, I guess there is like two or three animals on the planet that actually are loners, but even them still got to mate and still got to make a family.So even those animals that are classified as loaners are not.And so from that perspective, if you look at the evolutionary process of all of these species in the language of the Native Americans, we went from the miha, the individual, to the Tioshpayers, which is the families, and then the regions, which is families of families all the way to the people.And that's no different for other creatures.And chickens are no exception.Now, chickens evolved over the jungles of Southeast Asia.The whole blueprint is about ranging openly and scratching and all of that under a forest canopy.They are not very fond of open spaces.They are scared, very scared, and don't go outside in open areas where there is sun, for example.They are not pasture animals.They are not like ruminants that actually can process pastures effectively, like cows and other ruminants.They are mostly foragers in the context of digging up worms and bugs and all kinds of things from the ground in the air.But especially they are very adept at capturing grain, grain that you see there on the stems or on the ground sprouting as they go around.So from that perspective, to us it was tree range.Farms really represent the most compatible modern expression of restoring the poultry, in this case, specific to this livestock, to its natural ancestral habitat.And when you do that, then the species actually perform better.Animal welfare is optimized, mortality is minimized, disease is managed.I would say eliminated because you can't eliminate diseases.In fact, the health of the animal is really the condition at which any organism can bounce back from getting infected by a disease causing pathogen.And not necessarily the absence of those diseases and pathogens, it's actually the ability of the organism to bounce back from it and resist and continue to live a healthy life.From all of that perspective, what we represent is the most adaptable ancestral system to the modern conditions that we're living through fragmented ecologies,fragmented societies and colonizing and very fragmented economies.Within that context we inserted the chicken as a first step back into its natural habitat ancestral, the best modern version of it so that we could optimize the expression of that species and all aspects associated with chickens.And then on top of it, we started overlaying the social and the economic so that we could end up with what is actually regenerative from the whole triple bottom line rather than diminishing and reducing the concept of regeneration.To land or soil or practices or no tail or any of that reductionist approach.Colonizing mindset that a lot of people are utilizing as they entered and discovered discover this ancestral way of thinking, of living, of being that is now being named just like the Americas were named Regenerative.But regenerative to us is really a way of living and all of that and from that perspective is that we then work with poultry and actually this is why our system is so different to anything else you have seen out there.Sara Harper:
Yeah, well, a constant issue I'm always talking about is the difference between outcomes and practices and exactly what you're talking about.And as an eater of chicken what is the difference that you as a consumer would notice when you get one of your chickens?Compared to a conventionally raised chicken the.Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Most important is the incredible, well, the broad taste profile.Our chickens actually have A to Z in terms of food and because of that A to Z in terms of flavors.And beyond that the texture of the meat is solid but it's not hard, it's not gamey, but it is not pale and blanche.It is also we'll see in the oils the fats in the chicken.They are not clumped up around the chicken.When you grill our chicken for example, you will see that fat more yellowish, more of the original way.The fat is supposed to be in an animal that is healthy rather than an animal that is maybe big and fat and everything but not necessarily healthy.And so the fats in those different profiles of birds are very different also because our chickens are arranging and exercising that texture is much firm but it's still soft ancestrally.We also need some resistance when we chew something that resistance which is defined by texture you will feel it very marked in our chicken and if you make soup stock or if you make any of that it will blow you away.In terms of the richness of the flavors in our chicken.Sara Harper:
Well, when a consumer goes to the store and they see all these different labels and they see all these different descriptions that sound good and they often look good, the marketing does a really good job of making people think that they're maybe getting what you're doing but they're not.And how do you maybe advise consumers to find something that's real, that is holistic?I talk a lot about.You have to know the source.You just have to in order to know what you're getting.And so when people buy through your outlets or through maybe an online forum down the road,will they be able to hear about the story or connect to it so that they can know the difference, right?Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
No, of course.We have so much material out there already online that people can just Google us, search us on the internet and find literally hundreds and hundreds of stories, presentations and so on.But closer to home, if you're going to the grocery stores that Jen was describing, where we are, you will be able to also scan our code or just go to Tree Rangefarms.com or Regentify, go to alliance or Regentpultry.com.We got so many different platforms where different parts of this story are being told.Regentpultry.com is our training facility.So if you actually want to know everything,whether you're an eater or a farmer or a professional, an investor, especially right now, as we are in the middle of our seed raising campaign and the seed capital raise,we are actually telling a lot more of this story with the intention that if somebody out there is feeling like, well, I want to explore putting my resources into this area, that that story is also out there.So almost from any perspective you think about, we have a platform to tell those stories.So the Regentpoltry.com is where people go for the full training if they want to do that.And also some free trainings, introductory trainings that people can take if you just want to get a teaser for what it is.Region AG Alliance is the nonprofit backbone system management and development organization.And so if anybody wants to enter the process of becoming a Tree Range Farms supplier, they go through the alliance, which is where they get the training accompaniment, agronomics visits, design all of the ta and the training that they need in order to grow into their farm operations and transform into a poultry center regenerative agriculture system.And then once they are through that and they are ready to start producing, then they come to Tree Ranchfarms.com and then we contract their production and label, market it,distribute it and all of that.So all of those stories are readily available and are verifiable whether it's a scientific community that wants to do it.Like, we got four scientists right now that through a partner called Fresh Water came in and they are actually going out there and collecting.This is the third year they are collecting data on everything from biology, soil health,soil nutritional profile, the changes on it as the chickens range and all of that.Over time, the biomass that we are growing with the canopies we incorporated, the understory, for example, is hazelnuts and elderberries.The over story here in the Midwest for the jungle like habitat is oaks and hickory and maple and basswood and other native species.And these scientists are verifying that all of those things are actually codified into like number of trees per acre per production unit.And what is that doing to the soil, the water,the health of the organic matter, and the health of the soil overall?And that results in healthier chickens, which we now are codifying into a set of different targeted standards.So whether it's welfare for the animals,whether it is soil health, social interconnectedness and all of that, all of those stories are continuously coming through the business ecosystem we have in place.So any eater out there can go as far and as deep and as broader wide as they want to.And if they feel like, well, this is all good,but I want to see it, they are welcome to join one of our farm tours and spend a day on the farm.I mean, it's not free because we also eat and we also have to pay our bills.And it's not like we're just open for people to come like a shopping mall.But we will never reject anyone that wants to come and visit.The Rea, the Regent Culture Alliance is always programming tours, and collectively we work to do events, public events and all of that.But if somebody is just eager and dying to come out and take a look at the chickens and don't need to take our time, we also have a protocol so people can do that and give them the address and give them the protocols for biosecurity and all kinds of things like that.Just come and walk around the farms.We are 100% transparent.We hide absolutely nothing.In fact, we don't want to.We want 100% of what we do to be seen, known,verified, studied, if you want to.And so that's the way we approach this storytelling and also community verified processes.Sara Harper:
And do you have plans to expand outside of Minnesota, or is that in the works or where else might you be coming?Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Yeah, in fact, we started we concentrated in Minnesota until recently, but before we actually set up this regional system here to scale up one region,we started working with the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.And there's another system already evolving there and feeding a lot of people right there in the reservation.They're just not distributing outside yet.But it's already a system.It's a sister organization for us.There's another system up in the highlands of Guanajuato in Mexico that was developed way back in 2017.I spent five years training the teams there.There's over 300 farmers in Guatemala who are already part of a Guatemalan system.There is in the region between Colombia and Ecuador, there's nine native communities who adopted our system long time ago.And I went there to train the engineers and the teams as well.British Columbia.Hazelton, British Columbia.The Skina River Watershed Partnership adopted our system and deployed training and demonstration units up there, too.And as far as the commercial side of this,this is our first region.Once we reach 2 million chickens here, we're going to the southern region to deploy egg production and then we're moving east.Probably the Hudson Valley is where we are exploring right now.I just spent a week, I mean, a few days there a week and a half ago, and we're exploring a regional operating partner to develop our eastern cluster or region.And then we are doing the same thing in the West Coast.And so absolutely, our system was designed for national application.The fact that we have to start regionally is just because we have to be systemic and organized and we have to make business sense of this.Sara Harper:
How hard has it been to kind of break into the retail sector?Because I know that's very hard.Is it getting easier as people know more about regenerative, about the holistic nature of what you're actually doing?Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Yes. Well, there are many factors that come into play.It's not easy.I don't think we'll ever say that, but there is always low hanging fruit.And right now we're still harvesting low hanging fruit.So it hasn't gotten very hard for us,primarily because I lived in Minnesota since I migrated from Cormal.I have made it a point of being everywhere in this state.And so I built networks in the tens of thousands of executives and individuals.And I've spoken to over probably since I came maybe over a thousand times in churches and schools and conferences and all of that, all the way from five people to keynotes for 300top executives of corporations.And so all of that groundwork was done before we launched this business.And so right now we are just kind of harvesting that social capital that came with that.And because of that, pretty much every food co op in the Twin Cities, which is actually the largest conglomeration of food co ops in the country, are already partners.We're already partners with us before we even started putting product in the market.We haven't yet optimized those relationships,so we haven't tapped all of them yet.So we're still working on that.You got to remember that we just launched Tree Range Farms at the end of November.Literally.When I came on board before that, it was transitioning from a previous operation and all that.But the team that we, jen, Tony and Ted and I,we actually started working together in February this year.And so this is a brand new operation.And for the time we have been in business,this is about as good as it gets.We have no resistance from any of the markets that we're actually tapping right now.And some of them were, like, waiting for us,and then they went exclusively with us and they kicked out any other product out there that didn't have the solidness and the systemic processes and all of the validation points.And all of the infrastructure and support systems and all of that that we prepared before we went to them to ask them to partners as distributors for us.And so that made a huge difference, the fact that we didn't come here as a company, we didn't come here to sell chickens.We came here to change the world.And chickens are our instrument and our strategy.And because it's also, as we say in Guatemala,is the protein of the poor, everybody getting chicken.I have yet to find a person who's allergic to it for an or that is religiously prohibited to eat a chicken.And one of the things that comes with our system is a spiritual grounding for the eater because, you know, now you are communing,you're in community and you are in communion with the living systems of the planet as you encounter the outputs from this system is not a product.It's actually an expression of the infinite power of the energy of the universe.It is the assemble of unedible energy into something we can put on our plate.But it is energy that has been on this planet for billions of years, billions, literally tens of billions of years that over time evolved that story of evolution and the same energy.We have not created new energy, you and I. We are the expressions of energy that has gone through trillions of life forms before he came into this form.And he will continue, hopefully we won't destroy it, pollute it to the point that he can't give more life after we are done with using this energy.And so in that context, people can actually come into this space where they come in contact with this poultry in the market they know is not no more one of those whitewashed versions of somebody just claiming something so that they can sell more product to an unsuspecting consumer.We actually have the integrity that is required if somebody is going to call what they do regenerative.Now, you can there's nothing to prohibit you from doing that.That doesn't mean you have integrity.And so from that perspective, I think that we are at a point in the evolution of the population trying to feed and nourish the body, the soul and their mind and their spirits with the food they eat.And we offer about as good as it's ever going to get in terms of being in communion with that amazing ability of the universe to deliver us this energy that we need in order to keep regenerating our bodies while we are alive.And then for it to go unpolluted to the next cycle of life.Sara Harper:
Yeah, because you talk about being really not just a producer of food, but a steward of energy because in a holistic system it just flows from the sun to the plant, to the animal, to the person, to the soil.Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Of course the soil, photosynthesis, animal soil and bag.And then everything in between is just the life that emerges out of that cycle.Sara Harper:
I know I could talk to you for hours, so it's good that Jen is limiting us,but for my last question, I wanted you to talk a little more about something you said in one of your presentations, which was there's a difference between being alive and living.And I think that's part of what you're talking about with this whole system.It's, it's true for the animals, but it's true for us too.And I'm wondering, what can consumers learn from these chickens about this lesson?Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Oh, it's so much.I mean, Quinn, I said it's not just free ranging, but tree ranging is because chickens are supposed to be out there in the open space.That's the natural habitat.And to the extent that you limit that, you're also limiting the potential of that animal,that creature, that living organism.And then ranging under the trees allows them to actually completely transform the way they express themselves.And when those conditions are met in the context of verifying where our food comes from, one of the things you will see is the incredible lessons that every creature on this planet, every living system, teaches as it evolves.One example, the hazelnut.We didn't pick the hazelnut for the chicken,it picked us.Now, how does that happen?Well, first of all, the chicken picked us too.As immigrants, we got no access to land readily.We are not inheriting it.It takes forever to get enough economic savings, enough savings to purchase land.And on top of it, the credit to get the land purchased on top of it.Once you have land, you have to deploy it.And once you deploy it, you need a system you can be part of so that you are not operating in isolation on your own, miserably, being a small farmer on your own, because that just doesn't work.And so all of this we learned by observing the way these systems have organized themselves across the planet.And in this case, a specific bioregion in the Midwest, where we are, where the chicken chose us because it met our economic and social conditions.But it's also got almost limitless.I mean, it's limited, the market is limited,but it's quite large.So there is space to grow and grow and grow until billions of dollars we don't have to change gears, shift gears, change boats or buses or trains, so to speak.We can stay on the same vessel for a very long time.So it chose us because of those characteristics.And then the tree literally chose the chicken.Over millions of years, if you look at the phenotypical characteristics of a hazelnut,you will see a canopy that is 100% blocks,100% of the sun.The chicken needs that because he needs that protection.Now, the distance between the hazelnuts actually can be set by watching the chickens run from hazelnut to hazelnuts.They teach you what distance to put the hazelnuts at.And we came down to after two years of observations to the fact that both hazelnuts and chickens were telling us that about 60%canopy cover was perfect.That's where the chicken was relaxed.That's when the chicken will get scared from a hawk flying over but for few seconds and back to pecking again and so on.Less than that, their stress lasted longer and so on and so forth.Now that hazelnut developed to provide that.Why?Because it needs a lot of nitrogen and most of the chicken **** is actually nitrogen.Chicken is in the industry standards and scientific myopic linear views of things, the chicken is a very inefficient feed converter.So the FCR, the feed conversion rate is lower than say, pigs are more efficient.That's because you are not looking at the whole system.But if you look at the hazelnut and the chicken together, it's way more efficient than almost any other livestock in terms of energy transformation.Right?Well, the chicken told us that because they said, well, wait a minute, why is it that even though we put many other trees, when it came down to hiding away, the chickens always picked the hazelnuts?Because the hazelnut figured, well, I need a lot of nitrogen.When the chickens get scared, they run and after they run, they ****.So they run under the tree and then they ****,which means now I got all the energy that I need, especially the nitrogen, to produce these amazing amounts of nuts.And so they develop root systems, it's almost like an inverted umbrella to capture all of that and then turn it into biomass and hazelnuts and so on.If you look at the hazelnut profile then it goes out about seven and a half feet in radius.So 14, 15ft diameter from the center of the tree or the bush.In this case, the bushes that we plant here.We don't use the European tree versions but the native hybrid is a hybrid within the European and the native hazelnuts which produce this bush, multiple stem bush.And so the hazelnut can go down 12ft in depth with its roots and 15ft in diameter.It literally merges its roots with the next row and the next, creating this impenetrable,nutrient impenetrable layer to capture almost,I would say almost 100% of that energy.You don't have species that are that efficient at transforming energy but if you just look at the chicken then you're stuck with this.Myopic linear view of what is efficiency in nature and especially in agriculture.And so the concept of regeneration here is really taught better by the species themselves.When you observe all of these things, what they can teach you is just beyond what you and I have time for.Sara Harper:
It is truly and that interconnectedness that we depend on other things and that that's a.Good thing.It's a good thing to be interconnected.Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Well, we are interconnected, whether you will like it or not.Yes, and it is a good thing because without that interconnectedness, we wouldn't exist.When you think of yourself, we are not individuals, we tend to think that oh, I'm reiki you're, Sarah, yes, but in the context of an ecosystem, and I don't mean out there,you and I are an ecosystem by ourselves.Very diverse and superbly complex ecosystem where bacteria and fungi and viruses are actually central to our functioning.And then those organs that we have, without those challenges and interactions and dependency and interconnectedness, they just cease to function.And that's exactly how the planet is organized, exactly the same way as our bodies.That's why to question whether the earth itself is an organism is so stupid.Sara Harper:
In myopic well, thank you so much Rahee.I really appreciate your time and certainly all the amazing work that you and your team are doing for us all, for the planet, for animals, eaters.So thank you so much.Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin:
Thank you.This is great.Thanks for amplifying these messages and I know you have tirelessly worked to do this and I identify with that picture you have with your microphone there.I've seen it so many times.So I appreciate what you do here for these stories.Speaker E:
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