Wearing multiple hats is essential to the livelihood of Glen Gosier. The Dixie, Georgia, native is well known throughout his community and other parts of the state as a farmer, teacher and funeral home director.
During the school year, Gosier can be found teaching agriculture at Thomas County Central High School. In addition, he works as a licensed funeral home director at Hatcher Peoples Funeral Home in Thomasville, and he is a certified embalmer in the states of Georgia and Florida.
Gosier also owns Rusty Bucket Farms LLC, a 105-acre farm of row crops, produce and cattle. Some of the items grown on the farm include soybeans, peanuts, cucumbers, okra and field peas.
“The beauty of farm life is it gives me time to spend with my family,” Gosier said. “Everything we do on the farm involving produce gives me time to spend with my wife and kids. We can be running peas through a sheller, harvesting okra, or pickling cucumbers. It’s all family-oriented, and that’s what I love about it.”
In addition to spending time with his family, the produce from the family farm serves as a commodity to residents throughout the state.
“I have customers that buy from me every summer,” Gosier said. “We do four to five trips a year to my wife’s hometown in Jeffersonville, where we sell peas, squash, peppers and okra.”
Gosier also travels to Darien and Brunswick to sell his produce, but he also sells his vegetables to a nearby store in a minority neighborhood community where local residents purchase it.
“The people purchase from me for the quality,” Gosier said. “Even though I could charge more, I try not to because it’s a service industry and you’re serving the people. That’s what’s allowed us to have consistent customers.”
The Fort Valley State University agricultural education alumnus, whose wife is also a biology alumna of FVSU, is no stranger to farm life. He grew up on the small farm that he inherited from his family. In addition, he purchased land from his mentor who passed away in 2020. The remaining acreage is rented from his cousin and grandmother. Reflecting on it all, Gosier said land is significant to him because he watched his father labor in the soil.
“It’s important to me," he said. “It’s something I’ve seen my dad work hard for and I want to carry the torch and keep it going. It’s not a lot of minority farmers. I have boys and hopefully I can inspire my children to keep it going.”
According to the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service, the share of Black farmers has declined significantly over the last century. Today just 1.4 percent of farmers identify as Black. These farmers represent less than 0.5 percent of total U.S. farm sales. Gosier is a part of that 1.4 percent.
Gosier said that one of the many challenges facing small, minority farmers is securing funding from state agencies.
“The first time I tried to apply for a Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan, they denied it because they said it wasn’t enough acreage,” Gosier said. “They couldn’t see how I justified making enough money for a loan.”
Admittedly frustrated, he did not try to appeal the denial.
“The biggest issue with FSA is it can be discouraging,” Gosier said, referring to the application process. “You have to jump through so many hurdles to get where you’re trying to go.” A year later, Gosier reapplied and was able to secure the FSA Equipment Loan to help purchase two tractors.
“The biggest blessing about that loan is it came at a 1 percent interest rate.” Gosier said. “You can’t beat that.”
The small farmer said purchasing tractors with cabs made spraying pesticides and herbicides much easier.
“I saw so many of the older minority farmers get sick and die from chemical exposure,” he said. “I mostly use the tractor with the cab to spray chemicals and it keeps me from having to breathe in those toxins.”
Since securing the loan, Gosier said he has developed a good relationship with FSA. “What helped us get to this point is not giving up,” he said. “We had to be persistent. It can be a lot of obstacles, but if you want it, you have to stick with it and keep pushing.”
In addition to persistence, Gosier also acknowledges how several people have been helpful along the way.
One particular person is Rodney Brooks, who serves as the beginning farmer regional coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) FSA in Leesburg, Georgia. A 2001 alumnus of Fort Valley State University, Brooks helps beginning farmers engage with stakeholders and connects small farmers with government programs.
Gosier also received help from Carey Norton, a loan officer for FSA and Vhonda Richardson of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) Extension.
“Historically, minority farmers have faced discrimination,” Gosier said. “Now I see the federal agencies taking better strides than ever. We have people in positions of power within the agency that we never had before to look out for minority farmers. “It’s still battles being fought. The key to our survival and success is we have to work together. You may be good today, but everyone needs someone to help them out at some point in life.”
The entrepreneur said wearing multiple hats can be challenging, but he is thankful for the relationships he’s built with employees from federal agencies to help him by persevering through the process. “It can be a daunting task, but it can be accomplished,” he said.
Glen Gosier is married to Endia Gosier. They are the parents of Glen Jr., Grant and Grayson. In addition, Glen holds a master’s and specialist degree from Auburn University where he is currently a doctoral candidate in agricultural education.