Hey, where'd you go?

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley - former University of Kentucky PG

June 01, 2021 Collin Kushner / Ramel "Smooth" Bradley Season 1 Episode 11
Hey, where'd you go?
Ramel "Smooth" Bradley - former University of Kentucky PG
Show Notes Transcript

From New York to Eastern Kentucky, Ramel "Smooth" Bradley is changing the world. In this episode of the "Hey, where'd you go?" podcast, the former University of Kentucky Point Guard talks about growing up in Brooklyn, his playing days in Lexington, playing professionally overseas, his Grandma's  influence, joining the AgTech world and so much more. Today, Ramel is the Community Director at AppHarvest, which is an applied technology company, based in Appalachia or Morehead, Kentucky.

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

For a long time, I dealt with some level of, I don't want to call it depression at some level. It was at some level because, you know, I wanted to be a professional basketball player, but ultimately I wanted to play in the NBA and it took me a few years to accept the fact that, Hey, like how did these 100 or however many guys that year, no one signed you and that's okay. I'm now comfortable or in a position to where I can say, okay, that really doesn't change who I am or the level of dedication that I put into the game.

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Speaker 3:

Welcome back to another episode of the Hayward. You've got podcasts . I'm your host, Colin Cushner. This next guest played college basketball at the university of Kentucky, played professionally overseas. And is now back in Kentucky working as the director of outreach at app harvest. His name is Ranell smooth Bradley. What's up, dude. How are you calling? How are you brother? I'm great. I'm in my little , uh, LA Portland pads is actually a little green screen , uh , just to mask the kitchen, but I'm good, dude. No complaints. How about you? How's all in Kentucky.

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

All is well, I'm over here at Eastern part of Kentucky. Um, just down the road from the facility and we got some sunlight today, so I can't complain. I can't complain.

Speaker 3:

Ramelle I want to start from the very beginning of your life, how we got to this point where you are in , in Kentucky. You're from Brooklyn, New York. Obviously you got the fantastic accent and I'm sure people in Kentucky are always wondering, where does Ramelle smooth Bradley from? Tell me about your childhood in Brooklyn. Okay.

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

So , um, absolutely born and raised in Brooklyn, Brooklyn hospital, Kings county , um, in the Fort Greene area. Um, and growing up, I want to say I was inspired at an early age , um, for playing the game of basketball actually grew up in the same project building as the legendary Hooper Bernard king. Um, so like right outside of my house , um, he grew up, who'd been , my uncle grew up hooping there, so I fell in love with basketball early and , um, as I was growing up, I just fell in love with the game we practice and train all day. And luckily I was fortunate enough to have a family that supported my efforts. And , um, that actually took me a long way. I studied, I ended up studying in the beginning high school at park west in Manhattan. Um, played there for a few years and , um, built up my name. People got a chance to see my talents. And then I had an awesome opportunity to leave New York and attend the first basketball , um , team at IMG. Um, and that's kind of where my journey from New York kinda that was like the beginning of me starting to travel and get out of the city, see what the world is like.

Speaker 3:

I'm curious. Was there someone in particular, maybe a family member or somebody in the community that piqued your interest in basketball? Or is this something from a young age you saw it walking around and you're like, I want to do that. Well,

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

One, one of my uncle hoops and he always looked up to Bernard king and also Michael Jordan is strong is from Brooklyn, New York from the same projects. Actually a lot of people don't know that before he moves to North Carolina. So, you know, Michael Jordan was playing on TV. My family was the locked then and that love just kinda just was instilled in me. And it didn't help other than hurt that we had a park right across the street from the building that I grew up in. So I watch a game right after the game was over. I'm going to side on a basketball court, trying to emulate

Speaker 3:

The moves. When you , you moved to Florida and you made that transition towards the end of high school, what did you learn from that experience? Moving far away from home at such a young age,

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

When I left home, it was difficult decision to leave my mom and leave my grandmother behind. Um, but the one thing that I always kept in my mind kind of thing that gave me extra confidence was I always thought about the Frank Sinatra song and the New York when he talks about, if you can make it here , you can make it anywhere. So, you know, I was like 14, 15. I was very nervous, but I kind of had that in the back of my mind, along with all of the values that my family taught me. And what made the transition easier was the fact that I was open-minded to, you know, come in and counter me and people from different cultures, engaging with them. And I think that for the most part, that's what helped me get through being accepting. And I only learned that just by having a , uh , a family that was committed to treating people like people and meeting them where they are, and also being from New York, which was diverse. So it was people from France and Italy and Russia all over the world, all training and athletics. And , um, I would say that was probably the biggest thing. Just being open to other things, not just focusing on where I was from and what things were like back home in Brooklyn.

Speaker 3:

How important do you think it is for young people and just middle-aged people older people to , to be open just in general, whether it's athletically or in life?

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

I think it's huge. It's so huge. I mean, you see just all of the challenges that we're dealing with currently. And personally, my belief is that the reason why we have so many barriers and boundaries is because we're hesitant and we're a little bit fearful of just getting to know other people, you know, being able to listen to the things that make them tick the things that make them feel better and finding that common ground ultimately. So we w if we were more accepting of other of other people, and we looked at the things that bring us together more than the things that separate us, I think, I mean, we'll, we'll be , uh , better off society. And that's kinda what I just try to try to do every, each and every day. Really.

Speaker 3:

I love the openness that you have because I'm a Southern California guy born and raised in orange county. You're , you're in this tiny bubble and it was a great bubble. Don't get me wrong. But you think about the rest of the country as a whole, and you just don't know, you read things, you watch, you know , clips, but you really don't know unless, unless you physically go and do and live. And , and that's why I think it's so great that you, you left the confines already with an open mind. You went to Florida , uh, met tons of other new and great people, and you're able to elevate your basketball career to the next level. At what point did you realize that you are going to have opportunities to play at the next level?

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

I remember being in high school and playing with juice. All-stars I don't know if you know this team, but , uh , we started juice all-stars somewhere around oh two oh three. So it was like me and Sebastian Telfair on the same team. I know Mario Davidson and a few other guys. And , um, we had LeBron, James come in time and it was an ISA tournament. I know, you know, ISA and like the whole gym was packed, flooded, and we played two games first night score , like 27 points abroad had like two points. And a lot of people was like, who is this rebel Bradley guy ? They kind of knew my name, but not to that magnitude. So after that game, I was just like, yeah, I know I could be, I know I'm a force now. And it was the best players in the country all gathered in New York city. So I think around that time, I was beginning to feel like, okay, I could do this with the best of them. I can see myself being successful, having a future in basketball.

Speaker 3:

Well, you know, when you're going up against LeBron James , uh , and you're scoring more points than him, significantly, significantly in a game, you, you know, you're up to something, dude. When, when did you get the nickname smooth and, and how did that all come about? Cause I know I did the Rummel smooth. I don't know if that was the best way to intro smooth, but that's, I guess my spin on it.

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Well, no, it's just, it's just normal, smooth. And I got, I got that nickname , uh , from, you know, just being from New York city and being in the Mecca and, you know, just showing my talents. And that's just kind of the tradition in New York. If you're doing your thing and people see you doing anything, you playing a game commentators, they going to give you a little nickname. And I was playing in one tournament in Brownsville at the BRC scored like 30 some points. And the guy on the mic , he just kept calling me smooth. I always got so smooth. And from that point, it just stuck with me in New York and then it just kind of stuck. And now it's just here for the forever. Now it's just the middle. Okay .

Speaker 3:

When you were getting recruited, was that process stressful for you? Was it exciting? Uh , how did you work through that?

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Actually exciting for me, because it's just a good feeling when you dedicated your life to something. And then the time that you're supposed to be graduating and making a huge life decision, going to university and see all of the schools and all of the letters coming in, it kind of gave me a boost of confidence. Um,

Speaker 3:

Early on

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Look at the blue bloods, the power teams. I was kind of like, you know what? I don't want to go to a school like that. I want to go to a mid-major school and dominate the big schools. And, and that , that was kinda my thought process. But then after Tubby Smith came and visited me at IMG and came to my house and you see a facility at UK and you , then you start to understand why the best program in college basketball history. At that point, it was a lot easier for me to make my decision rather than choose through a bunch of schools that ultimately it was going to be difficult for me to win or have success. Um, so early on it was really fun and it was, it was pretty much awesome. I didn't really feel that difficult about making a decision. It was scary to go onto the college campus and, and be at that level in my life. But during the process, it was kind of fun and encouraging.

Speaker 3:

The first time you stepped foot in Lexington in the first time you walked inside Rupp arena, what are the first things that went through your mind?

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Wow. Wow. Um, I mean, I stepped on campus and I mean, we have the wildest, like the wildest feds on the planet. You know, I stepped on campus. I get off the plane. People already know who I am. People already telling me come to the school because they heard about me and I was being recruited. Then you walk into the facility and it got everything you could possibly dream of chef food. I mean, it , it was just easy. And I was in awe and I felt like this was the best place for me to come and to , to hone in on my craft. Um , it ain't no place like it I'm back.

Speaker 3:

So that's the craziest part is that this journey for you rebel has come full circle from New York to Florida to Kentucky. Then you played abroad. I mean your , your journey to getting back to Kentucky. So fantastic. And I'm excited for us to weave our way through. I know you , you played there for four years. Do you have a favorite moment? Is there one moment in time, maybe it was when you went to the elite at your freshman year that you're like, that's my favorite moment of all time playing , uh , playing in Lexington.

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

It's difficult because I have, I have many memories that are, that I cherish the fi us going to the elite eight is kind of one of those times. It was cool, but I got a concussion when I was supposed to shoot free throws that would've won us the game and put us in the final four . So I would think back at that time, I'm like, oh gosh, like, okay, so I'm sorry for bringing that one up, dude. Um, but I would have to say , um, as the game that meant the most and was probably senior night , um, last year being on the court with my other brother, who's a senior Joe Crawford and being able to embrace the fans and tell them how much we love them and get a standing ovation for 24,000 to show all of our appreciation for them and vice versa. I would say that's probably the moment that I think about or cherish the most

Speaker 3:

As a top notch athlete. How do you take a step back and just enjoy the moment and kind of practice mindfulness in those fantastic moments when you're waving to the crowd of 24,000? Cause it's, yeah, it's so hard to do cause you're all jacked up. You're juiced up and you're excited for the next level, but how do you just kind of take a step back and just go, this is pretty freaking cool. This

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Is cool to do. Um , at the time at the time it is. And I don't think at the time I really realized what the moment meant in its entirety. Um, however, once I got a lot more mature, say for instance, winning the championship in Turkey , um, the , the level of dedication that it takes and mindfulness that it takes to compete at a championship level. I realized that that point , um, you kinda gotta treat every day, like it's your last day. And so I just remember winning the championship and just sitting there in silence to just to kind of appreciate it and take it in and cause it is, it's just a difficult thing to do. It'd be jacked up. And then later on you look back on those moments and you go, ah , I wish I could have appreciated it a lot more, but you know, you never could fully do it. But I learned that leader as I matured in my career. Um, just how important that is, the moment

Speaker 3:

You ended up graduating from the college of agriculture food and environment. When, when did your, your curiosity in that realm come into play? Is that something that happened from a young age or when you got to Kentucky, you were kind of searching through the curriculum and you're like, that's exactly what I want to study when I

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Was nine or 10 years old, right? Like around the same time I'm falling in love with the game of basketball. Well, my grandmother has started a mission and Brooklyn and, you know , she had her core values, the things that she wanted to accomplish through the mission, service the community through the mission. And one of them was hungry, you know, feed the hungry, simple concept, right? Feed the hungry, help, the helpless, give hope to the hopeless. And you know , she sacrificed her kitchen when I was younger just to prepare meals that me and my family would distribute out into the community. So long story short, when I went to UK, right. I'm thinking I want to be an MBA most winning this program, or would it be a pro? And I also got to make sure that my merchants together, my clothing line . So I initially studied fashion merchandising in textiles to , I realized it was a bit of a heavy workload project-based and I was traveling hooping . So I was like, what am I going to do next? Like what can I see myself doing forever? Look that it seen food and environment, college of ag, community leadership and development instantly thought about my family and their service and their , you know , them instilling in me, be a leader, stand out and do the right thing. So I was like, this is something I can do. Food family did this only to realize, right? Like I never wanted to literally farm. It was more so of the community leadership development that spoke to me. Um, but again, life full circle after a decade of hooping and then realizing that there's some real issues in agriculture and I was in a position to help bring or solve some of those challenges. It just all clicked. And then at that point I was just mad , man. This is only from the creator. He orchestrated this whole thing and it lined up perfectly. So I'm still making sense of it all, but I feel like I'm living in my purpose. So every day I wake up motive .

Speaker 3:

When you told your grandmother that you were switching out of fashion to study agriculture, what did she say? She was

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Like, oh, agriculture. Like, I don't know too much about ag being from Brooklyn, but you know, she was very supportive. If that's what you want to do, you know, we support you, you know, you do your best and you make sure, make sure you bring home that degree. Um, so again, it was the support that got me through because it was many days that I was on a farm in class and see people in the overalls. And I was thinking to myself the same Brooklyn, like, what am I doing? What am I doing? And it all paid off in the long run. So I'm happy.

Speaker 3:

So amazing though, that you took something that your grandmother instilled in you as a child and unknowingly it planted a seed, no pun intended here with all the farming that we're about to get into. And then now here we are, you played basketball, professionally abroad. Uh , you were in the middle east, you were in Europe. What were those experiences like for you? It was a little

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Scary at first, but I speak on this. Right? So even while I was studying at UK was many times I wanted to study abroad. It was like a passion. Like I would love to go to another country and study for a few days, but I couldn't like I couldn't because I was a full-time student athlete. So to be able to have a chance to travel to Croatia, France, see Israel and see Turkey, it was, it was really amazing eye opening, eye opening to see different cultures live in different ways. And also at the same time, accepting me for who I am, this guy from Brooklyn. I mean, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Um , I'm really just truly appreciative of the people that I met in different countries. I got lifelong friends now that speak different languages and, and ultimately I feel very well cultured. And , um, I just really appreciate it. I appreciate it a

Speaker 3:

Lot. Any regret or the MBA never came to fruition that you went overseas, but the NBA dream never quite unfolded for you

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

For a long time. I dealt with some level of, I don't want to call it depression at some level. It was at some level because, you know , I wanted to be a professional basketball player, but ultimately I wanted to play in the NBA and it took me a few years to accept the fact that, Hey, like how did these 100 or however many guys that year, no one signed you and that's okay. And it came, it took a while for me to come to that level of accepting or understanding or appreciation. Um, um, but it took some time and I'm now comfortable or in a position to where I can say, okay, that really doesn't change who I am or the level of dedication that I put into the game.

Speaker 3:

Now , just kind of thinking about it. And obviously I don't want to put words in your mouth. I'm just kind of going , gonna propose something, those experiences that you just briefly reflected on playing a broad , in some ways I feel like those are , um, in terms of like going down the road, those stories will hold more weight than playing in the NBA and , and learning those different cultures and being with those people and picking up the different languages and how they do things,

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

You are, you are so true. And I've had a lot of conversations with my close friends , um, and people who are just trusting that's who played in the NBA and we've had these conversations and it was, it was really eye opening for me to realize that, you know, it's, it's a diff it's a different experience, you know, when you are born and raised in the states and you live in the states and you're here all the time. And you know, for me, my, my journey was unique and I got a chance to live in other countries and learn a little bit of different languages and, and be more open to the world. Um, and you know, again, to your point, like that's not the experience that a lot of other people can say that they've had or appreciate, or can hold a conversation or really fully be able to embrace what the world actually has to offer. So I'm grateful. I mean, I really am, and I appreciate the journey that the creator took me on. And now when I think about it and I look back, I say, you know, I , I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Speaker 3:

You played professionally abroad for nearly 10 years over the course of that time. What's something that you were really able to, that you learned that you're able to take back with you to the states.

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

I would say that the main thing I learned was again, right. To be accepting of people. It's, it's, it's so often that I'll have conversations with friends in the states about different cultures, or why is this, or why is it like that? Or, or why do they do things the way they do? And I find myself having this inner peace, being able to have lived in these places and embrace these cultures to have a different understanding. So I guess really, it just goes back to that acceptance of people being able to be any place and get along with different cultures. Um, and that's made me a more well-rounded person. Um, and I would say that's the main thing. You can talk about the food at different cultures, the different sceneries, that's all great and amazing. But I think the main thing I learned is to value and respect and treat people , um, the way that they deserve to be treated. You know, ultimately

Speaker 3:

When you decided to come back to the states, what made you decide to walk away from basketball and move forward into the next phase of your life?

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

As much as I like to think it was a well-drawn out plan, it wasn't, it was actually a very difficult time. So I realized that around 2016 , um , came home, honestly, Colin and my, see my grandmother and she's completely blind now. Right? I told you about, you know , just all the whole work service to the community. Well , she's completely blind. Now. She goes to dialysis now three times a week. Um, and that affected me in a way that just made it difficult. Like I seen family members go on about their life and my grandmother was suffering. I got, my little cousin is like over 500 pounds now. So it just got quite frankly, got to a point where I was like, I'm not going to get on this plane and go to another country and not be able to deal with the trauma, the crisis that my family was dealing with. So I needed to just take a break and that break was led by love, honestly. And so I went home, I tried to support my family, less active, less healthy volunteer with my mission and was giving out food, distributed food and, you know, doing research and educating myself. And then the whole agriculture thing came back to the forefront, right? Like I realized my grandmother was not the only person that is suffering from these curable preventable diseases, 23 million people. And that's just where my mind was at. That's what everything that's inside of me was focused on. And then I got a phone call conversation from my best friend from college, my brother who's a CEO of app harvest . And he was just like Ramelle. And like, I'm moving back to Kentucky and I want to tell you about this vision I have, but ultimately I need you to put this agriculture, that degree to use. And when we started talking again about, you know, preventable diseases, you know, obesity, things that are killing folks and our family and our community, and we ask why, why is this happening? Well, it's food. And when I spoke with Jonathan and he talked to me about the opportunity, right ? One to provide economic mobility for folks, especially in a region that's been hit hard due to the decline of coal. And then also the caribou diseases. It was just something that I felt like being from Brooklyn, understanding economic mobility, knowing that these, you know, process food that's traveling days in and days out is killing our folks. So again, I was just like, this must be the universe speaking to me. Um, this is exactly what I needed to do. We was feeding 1500 people in Brooklyn, but we started the business in Kentucky. I mean, we're able to feed 70, 80% of the whole Eastern seaboard. So it was a no brainer and it was just the right thing to do. Um, so I transitioned into entrepreneurship and it was not easy at all at all. I went through depression from not playing the game that I grew up playing my whole life. And I really wasn't equipped for that as well. You know, I didn't really realize how much of a mental toll it was gonna take on me, but thankfully , um, you know, the work that we're doing now is more purposeful than playing the game of basketball. Um, so that really helped me , um, you know, just guide me through this transition.

Speaker 3:

How did you balance all that though? Because I, I love how you, you lead with your heart and your soul. You went back to Brooklyn, to Butte , to be with your family, to be by their side, without any plans of your buddy hitting you up and just giving back and helping out. I'm curious though that that's a lot to take on, dude. I don't care how old you are. Teenager, twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, that's a lot to balance. How did you personally navigate through that to get to where you are now? A lot

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Of prayer, a lot of reading, a lot of studying, a lot of listening, a lot of mindfulness , um, and it took all of those things. Um, because I mean, it just, wasn't an easy thing. So I found myself needing to channel and direct all of my frustrations, you know, just everything that I was going through internally. I had to channel it to the right way. And I started taking yoga, bro. I was praying a lot more. I was reading books about every single thing, especially ag, especially transitioning. And these things helped me out a lot because at one point I felt like I was a wreck. I was just going to go crazy on everybody in my family, you know, health issues, health concerns, me having to sacrifice earning income financially to not earning income, to truly believe and the mission or the vision that we were trying to create. And really the only thing that helped me was prayer, yoga, mindfulness, and education, and , and reading a lot of books. And, you know, that helped me channel all of my passion and my frustration and my anger and all of those things to the right way. And so I just felt that all of that energy, all of those things that I was going through, I just put it into my family. I put it into farming and that's what got me through. Really

Speaker 3:

I thing I love Ramelle is how you channeled that, those difficult challenges that were kind of compounding on top of each other and you channel them in the healthiest ways that you can. Um, especially when you're, when you went, basketball is not a part of your life anymore, because you think about what sports do for people. When I was upset, growing up, I played ice hockey. That was, that was it, man. That was the outlet, you know, as a kid like that was it, there was no like yoga and mindfulness of course, now that I'm older, that's what I do and I get frustrated, but I think it's so amazing that without the one thing that probably helped out the most, you figured out many other ways to navigate through. And I think that's amazing.

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Thank you. And thankfully, and thankfully, because it was some days I didn't even realize I'm like, why am I so round up? And to your point, kind of like, it was, it was simple. Like, you know, I could be on the basketball court days and I could work out, you know, I could get up enough shots to get all of that animosity. I could make a play and scream and let all over frustration, but you know, it wasn't an athlete anymore. You know , I was a regular person and to be able to express myself in that way, I couldn't do it anymore. So I had to find other ways that were healthy for me to do that. And, you know, thankfully I did, because I know that's a huge transition that we don't, you know, we don't really have a lot of insights who as athletes, what happens after athletics and how do we transition and take those steps to getting where we need to be in the right way in the right way. Um, so thank you. But, you know, I was just fortunate enough to be around people that cared enough about me not to let me go off the deep end because of just everyday life

Speaker 3:

For some reason, though. And this is, this is why I'm so curious about that transition period from professional sports or collegiate athletics to just being like me, just your , your everyday person. Um, it's fascinating that no one talks about it. No one has figured out some sort of a game plan to, to minimize it. Cause you're, you're never gonna make it all go away. There's all , when you lose something, that's a part of you. There's always going to be, it's always going to be a transition period, but it's just amazing that there's not like a program to help direct people in , in, in better ways. That's the part that blows my mind.

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

I completely agree. And I find myself now at times, you know, after going after transitioning, I see now just more avenues opening up for me in ways that I can support and help guys like me, you know , that are athletes that realize that someday it's going to be a transition and we hear it all the time, right? Can't play basketball forever. You can't do this forever. But , um, it's one of my goals and missions to , to figure out how I did it, to be able to put it down on paper and create some sort of structure to be able to support the next generation of guys coming up. So , um, yeah, I, I agree with you. I wish there was more outlets , um, that could have been available for me and other guys in my situation, but to realize it now just means that at some point need to implement something like that and get with some folks and make sure that, you know, student athletes have these kinds of pathways and outlets because it's , it's, it's, it's needed, it's very

Speaker 3:

Needed. We all think athletes are superheroes and they don't deal with the same issues. It's almost , um, it's dehumanizing, right? You're taking a , a male or a female top-notch athlete and you just think they don't deal with depression. They don't deal with anxiety. They don't need to transition, but they literally, once they get off the court, I baseball field, they do the same things that everyone else does. So it's it's necessary. And I really do hope that one day that is something that changes because sometimes some people don't find their way. Um, and it's , uh, it's scary to think about, I do want to ask you, dude. So now you're the director of outreach over at app harvest. Can you kinda explain what app harvest is?

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

We're at tech company , um , we grow large scale fruits and vegetables, and we grow using no chemicals, no pesticides non-GMO we save 90%, less water than open field traditional ag because we recycle all of our rain water . Um, and we're able to, to grow 30 times the yield as you can, and open fields , traditional ax . So, you know, with growing food in a new way, and ultimately our goal is just to improve , improve access, to fresh produce for everyone. Um, want to grow a lot more food and use a lot less resources simply. And , um , I mean, we're , we're creating an ag tech hub from Appalachia from Eastern Kentucky. So we like to say, you know, this is farming. Now, this is how farming is done. Now we can grow all year round because it is in a controlled environment. And as you know, we have some huge challenges to agriculture, water being one of them, right? People migrating all over the world, not , not having access to fresh, clean drinking water. Um, I mean, that's really what we do. We're able to grow 50 million pounds of tomatoes from our first facility and we've hired over 500 people so far. And , um, I mean, we we're rocking and rolling. We have two more facilities that we're building right now , um, to do another variety of tomato and leafy greens. And as of, I want to say this past February, the company, we just took the company public. And so it's been an old, it's been overwhelmingly, it's been an overwhelmingly wild ride, but you know , essentially it's not rocket science. We grow in healthy food and we want to get people healthier, improve their quality of life. And at the same time, be able to provide them with a living wage so that they can take care of themselves, they families, and, you know, that's just the right thing to do

Speaker 3:

In a million years. You would ever end up back in Kentucky. And this is the direction that your life would be would, would take not

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

At all, not at all. And I'll tell you, when Jonathan called me, he was like, listen, I need you to come out. I need you to move to Pikeville. And we want to build a farm on the top of a mountain that used to be utilized for extracting coal. And in my mind thinking I'm like rubbing like, well, I have just got back home . I'm in Brooklyn. I'm not leaving my family to go to Kentucky, to Eastern Kentucky. Like I'm not doing , um, but I'll just tell you, man, like all of that praying , all of that mindfulness, all of that, just everything that I was expressing in myself, it was just like, okay, well here's the opportunity here it is. And , and I can't explain it, but it's probably one of the best things that ever happened to me. And in common, like we didn't even talk about this, right? Like I had no idea that in farming, right, there's, it's less than 1% of farmers are black, right? So with us redefining agriculture hair and Appalachia, right with us developing ag tech programs for the next, I now have this knowledge and this access to provide to folks in the urban community that look like me, right? So now I have a foot hole on one of the fastest growing industries on a planet. And I can't tell you what that feels like for me to know that we've been through so much discrimination and racism because of agriculture. And so for us to be able to do this, to do agriculture in a right way, and to be able to, to provide that access and opportunity for the next generation, the next group of men and women that look like me as well as don't look like me, like, I'll take every little bit of sacrifice that I had to go on to be here right now. So I'm , I'm, you know , I'm, I'm proud. I'm proud of

Speaker 3:

The work we bridge that gap. Ramelle to get, to , to make it more of a , of a diverse world and field. Like how, how do we, well, one,

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

I know that, well , I don't know this , but I believe this, right? Like at the end of the day column, whether you are black, white, Asian, whatever, you know, overweight, skinny, tall, strong, whether you're from Eastern Kentucky, are you from Brooklyn? Whether you're from Africa, Israel, like at the end of the night, or at the end of the day, you go home and do one of the most intimate things possible and not eat food. And the fact that, you know , there's not available access the fact that we have food deserts, the fact that there was red lining, all of these things, built up all of these bridges. And it's like, oh , this is really not that simple. How do we, how do we break down some of the barriers? Well, we all eat. That's simple enough. We should all have access to healthy food. Like we talking about how people look and where people from know , people eat simple, let's start there. We all eat. We should all have access to healthy food. Correct. Right. That's just the truth. And it's difficult. That's a difficult process, but it's very simple. Eh, when you think about the idea, right, let's make sure that we all have a space or avenues or access points for everybody to get the same amount of food or access to healthy food. And that's simple. And I like to just keep it simple, right? Like we all eat food. We should all have access to the same kinds of healthy foods. Simple. And that's what I believe. You know, if we focus on more of the things that bring us together that make us common, that we have in common, then you know, all the things that we don't have in common, it'll make it a lot. It will make for easier process is what I believe.

Speaker 3:

I love how you simplify that because I mean, you're right. It's not rocket science. We all, we all eat. We, and you're right. Eating. It's, it's a very, it , it is. It's very intimate thing. And, and that's, that's what we all do as people. And you mentioned something earlier that, you know, it can Tucky when you think of farmer, think of somebody wearing overalls. Right. And , and, and I love how you are. You are, you are changing the landscape Ramelle , uh , and , and setting the stage and the standard , um, for people to know that it's, this is open and available for, for anybody and everybody, no matter, no matter what they look like,

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Oh my gosh . So you just touched on something like it is so great, right. That I can farm right. In a controlled environment. And my J's that I'm wearing a walking Bain out in the dirt, right? It's like, it's no soil, it's no soil. It's led lights that when you walk into and you walk into the container container farm, or into a large controlled environment facility, it makes you feel good. Like you're in a nightclub. Like this is farming on a whole new scale. And, you know, when we look at just, you know , the challenges that we have right now in our environment, well, the population is increasing, right. And at the same time that the population increased in the land that we have, right. The land that we have available to even grow, like it'll take to planet earth for us to grow enough food. Right. So urban farming isn't necessarily a new thing, but the new technology that we have right now, that's available to grow this food is awesome. And when I talk to kids and I'm like, yeah, I'm farming out. I'm farming indoors. I look good. I got on a lab coat, I'm a plant scientist. You know, I'm a plant science . And these are the new things that engage the interests of the next of the next generation. And when I go home, I'm in Brooklyn, I'm farming in small spaces. It's awesome. It's awesome. So this is what farming looks like, and I'm proud to be a part of a company that is redefining what agriculture looks like, because it looks like me, it also looks like you Collin life , you know, and it's a great way to bring people together, man . So I'm just proud of the opportunity. And I'll tell you this also like, like I had to be encouraged, you know, to come back out to Eastern Kentucky as a black man, you know, like, so, I mean, I was looking at , uh, uh, George Washington, Carver, right? Booker T Washington. I know you seen Judas movie , um, with the chairman, Fred Hampton, but these are all folks who had to step out on the line specifically in agriculture started free breakfast programs. It inspired me to come out to the Eastern part of the state and do this. Um, so I'm just, I'm filled up, I'm filled up and I'm on a mission and I love it.

Speaker 3:

You had me cracking up when you set on farming and farming in my J's . I got my lab coat. So that's the thing like when, when I think, you know, when I think of farming, I think of that, that picture, you know, when you're wearing the overalls, you got the buckwheat in your mouth and you're walking around with a straw hat. And I mean, and that's not the case anymore. You're literally, you're not walking through soil. Um, you're , you're, you're, you're comfortable. You're all, you're all swagged out. You could have like your hat on and you could just go ahead and, and do your thing, but the , the world is ever changing. And I think it's important and imperative for people to not bite the change, but , but to move with it, understand that, you know, your prototypical farmer, isn't your prototypical farmer anymore. Who cares? We move along the train and , and embrace it. I mean, you're farming in Brooklyn.

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Absolutely. And , and that's, and that is the thing, like, aside from people not wanting to accept the change, you know, we have to educate people on the change that is happening. A lot of people are hesitant, but you got to look at the facts. You know, what the facts is. Okay, well, we can continue to grow in traditional ways where it's feasible, where we have access to healthy land that we can grow. But the reality is we need people farming. Traditionally, we need people using modern farming techniques and we need all of it to feed our population. So we, you know, we gotta find a way to re-educate ourselves on a new , um, more innovative ways to farm. Well , at the same time, you know, taking the traditional ways of farming and doing it better, you know, more transparency treat in treating our workers and our employees a lot better. You know, people are not bending all the way down and our controlled environment facility, you know, the fruit is harvested and the technology is in a place where they can harvest the fruit right here, working with technology and, you know, not extracting so much from our lens. So, you know, people just have to be open enough to learn about what's happening and fact check, you know, the availability of land use and all of these things. That's challenging our society. And they'll be a lot more, you know, open to moving forward with these new, innovative ways. It's just kind of a thing where people don't really know what's happening. They don't know where their food is coming from. They don't know what they're eating. So we got to do the job of educating them and letting people know what's actually going on.

Speaker 3:

Has there been any pushback though, in terms of when you're explaining to people that this is ag tech, right. It's true. It's different from traditional farming. Has there been pushback in terms of people fighting this change

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Actually, and you know, it's just because people don't really know, you know, they , they don't really understand what's happening. Some people think, oh, you're growing food inside in doors. It's like a lab is some kind of like Frankenstein, fruit and vegetables. It's like, no, the world provides us with nutrients, nutrients that are just condensed into a liquid solution. It's applied directly to the, to the root zone of our plants are what we grow. And so it's just more of an understanding as well as traditional farmers being hesitant, you know, well, you know, this new way of farming is going to cut into my market and not really fully realize that we actually need all of these systems to work together, to feed everyone. So again, it's just back to edge being educated about what's happening and how we all need to work together to solve this, to solve the problem, as opposed to no, my way is the right way. And that's the only way that it could be done.

Speaker 3:

So that's what I wanted to clarify. And , and I'm glad that, that you said it for all the listeners to understand is that this isn't ag tech isn't supposed to take over traditional farming. It's all supposed to, if you're all essentially a team helping each other.

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Absolutely. We growing more food because the world needs it and we cannot continue to farm the way we have in the past. And that's just a fact, we don't have enough land to do it. You know, you look at monocropping, you look at, you know, things that traditionally are just not good. We just need to change it. And we need to change it in the right way. And guess what? We don't have time to wait to do it. Like this is happening right now, right now I'm like 10 years. They're saying we're not going to have enough food, 10 years of saying we not going to have enough water. If we think we've seen the pandemic, that was COVID. Well , it was exacerbated by the fact that people are not healthy. And when you look at the numbers, it's saying, we're going to be losing people. I mean, God forbid 30,000, 40,000 people per month from curable diseases. If we don't start eating. Right. So like we got to look at these factors and change now before it's ultimately too late. And the people who don't really understand that we can try and educate them, but we can't wait around and wait for them to get it together. We gotta move on. We gotta move fast,

Speaker 3:

Too words that I know mean a lot to you, faith plus grit. What are the meaning behind those two words?

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Oh man. Faith and grips to me, it just means, well, one that, I mean, it's our character, right? I mean, to me, the faith part is about the belief, right? The belief that whatever it is that you doing that as possible, and a lot of times you ultimately need to have that belief in yourself. You need to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say the things that I committed myself to, I can do it. But then the other part of that is the people that you work with. Like you got to have faith in them that they are going to take care of a part that we could get it done together because it's not about just me or you. We need to get things done together. And then lastly, with the faith part for me is, you know, is about the creator. You know, like we wouldn't be able to do none of this. If it wasn't a higher power, guiding us to get that, to get it done. And then ultimately the grit part, you know, that's about the character. We could talk about what we want to do. We could talk about who we are. We could talk all we want to talk about, but at the end of all of the talk and it's about the action that we put in, and that's all about our character. So like I don't got the shirt on today cause I want it to rep Kentucky. But you know, I designed these t-shirts for our company, faith and grit, and I wear it every day. And you know , that's what I've been standing on about it. Not about it being bigger than me and taking a collective effort and being mindful enough to know that I got back up everything that I've been saying that we've been saying as a company and not is really just going to expose the true character. So , um, faith and grit, I mean, I've been, that's what I've been standing on. I really believe in those and those values. Um, so it's been getting me through,

Speaker 3:

I love the mantra. I love it a lot. Your grandmother's impact on your life and how she's shaped you to what you're doing now. Well ,

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

Maybe get emotion of dog . Um, I mean, my grandmother is the leader of our family , um, spiritually , um, and every other way that I could possibly think of. And, and, you know, the , the older I get, I realized that her sacrifice for our family, it was everything, you know, it changed the landscape of my community that I'm from in Brooklyn. And it also empowered me with the skills that I need to just move throughout this world and this life and, and, and make an impact for the greater good, you know. Um, and , and she just means everything to me and to my family. And when you talk about leaders, the people who show by setting the example are I just, I think the world of my grandmother, I believe that she is a world leader. And , and I believe that every day now when I read things like, well, you know, the United nations has like these sustainable goals about how to end poverty and end hunger and all of these things. And I'm thinking in my mind, well, that's awesome, but that's because my grandmother taught me these things when I was just a little kid and , um, you know, it was nothing that I wouldn't do for her. And it's an honor. So I heard , uh , you know, be able to birth my mother and bring me into this world. And, you know, I'm going to continue to do great things through sacrifice and service because of her great example. So I compare it to Malcolm X and Martin Luther king and my grandmother and every other world leader, because that's the kind of impact that she's had on , on me. And when I learned about other great leaders, I see those exact same qualities. So , um, I'm grateful to be a part of the family that I'm a part of, and I wouldn't change it for anything.

Speaker 3:

I love how we go back to, we go back to Brooklyn and your grandmother trying to make a difference in the community and you're helping her out. And here we are today, it's, it's come full circle, which, which we alluded earlier in the podcast, but I wanted, I want people, I wanted people to know the winding road that it took, because it wasn't easy. There were challenges, you're leaving basketball sports, you love your grandmother's health, other family health things. And now here we are, except making, not only making a difference in one community, but across the U S man,

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

You're absolutely right. And it is, it's just the beginning. It is just the beginning. Collin , like our goal is to build 12 more . These facilities, you know, I would go is to create ad tech programming that we get implemented in high schools across the nation. And, you know, we just get started. So I look forward, I look forward to talking to you again, like a year from now and giving you some updates on the work that we're doing , um, because it's coming soon and this is just Eastern Kentucky Appalachia. Um, we come in for the cities next to urban communities, and we're going to do as much as we can with this short time that we have here on this planet. And, you know, my mind is just made up. I just want to do the right thing and do the right thing for other people. And that starts with doing the right thing for myself and my family and my community, and then that it's going to spread abroad. So it's only the beginning, it's only the beginning and we fueled up, we fueled up, we got a lot more to discuss in the future. Um, and I'm just so appreciative of you reaching out and wanting to take the time to have this conversation. Um, yeah , man , I feel good. I feel good. Thank you.

Speaker 3:

I could tell how passionate you are about what you're doing now over at app harvest and the passion behind your family and your grandmother. And it's , your stories is so intriguing because it's, it's not the classic. You play basketball, you become a coach and there's nothing wrong with that, but it was taking again, taking something that your grandmother instilled in you at a very young age and getting a call from a buddy and , and all these dots to start connecting from, you know, your , your youth to your , your , you know, and it's just amazing. I think it's just amazing how life works sometimes.

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

You're absolutely right. And I w and I would like to also be encouraging for the viewers, for the listeners, you know, for the student athletes specifically, you know, we live in a world now where even if you're an athlete, you have to be mindful when you have to be aware of the challenges that's facing our community challenges, that's facing our world. You almost need to look at yourself right now as a CEO. So, you know , I would just be encouraged like if you study in something out of school, because you're a student athlete, make sure what you're studying is actually something that you're passionate about, right? You don't really have to search the world, just look at the people that you care about, things that you're passionate about. Similarly to me, and, you know, it'll help you make those transitions through your journey a lot sooner. So, you know, don't only be focused on basketball or whatever sport that it is that you played, because the things that are impacting your community are also impacting you. So find your place in them now, so that when you're moving through our life, you know, these avenues and these options, that opportunities will be a lot more readily available to you. And you realize them a lot easier. And, you know, it'll make transitioning throughout life so much better, so much better. So , um, and also we're going , gonna put that plan into place and get some structure behind that. I'm going to be working on that on the sidelines because it's needed.

Speaker 3:

If the athletes start planning while they're in college, they'll be a decade or two ahead of the game. Once their careers professionally do kind of wind down and it's they transition in , into the next phase of their lives, Romell smooth Bradley, dude, I appreciate you taking the time to jump on the podcast. Keep , uh, keep doing great things in the world, man. We all, we're all going to be following your lead and looking forward to hearing updates from app harvest here in the future. My friend, thank

Ramel "Smooth" Bradley:

You so much, Colin. I appreciate you so much, brother. And I look forward to talking to you someone and give you some great

Speaker 2:

[inaudible] .