FSTA Spotlight: Meet Marcellis

Marcellis took a big leap out of his comfort zone when he enrolled in CFBNJ’s Food Service Training Academy (FSTA).

“Believe it or not, I’m not the best cook,” he admitted. “But I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to advance my skills.”

Marcellis studied social work at Seton Hall University and then worked in the City of Newark’s Office of Sustainability. Now, he’s a community farmer in Newark. His company, Apiary in the Sky, converts vacant lots and inactive corridors into green spaces, apiaries, gardens, and farms. His latest project is a community fridge.

“In cities, you often see a lot of neglect and urban decay,” he said. “Many times, our external environment becomes a reflection of who we are. I want to give people something positive in that environment that they can take pride in.”

Born and raised in Newark, Marcellis is working to make his hometown into a paradise. This dream took shape at the start of the pandemic, when uncertainties inspired him to become more self-sufficient by growing his own food and investing in himself and his surroundings.

Now, through FSTA, he wants to gain new skills to better utilize the food grown at his farms. He hopes to limit food waste by cooking fruits and vegetables to turn them into products for people who may be unsure of how to use fresh ingredients.

“They said it would be intensive, but I didn’t quite understand how intense it would be until I got here,” he said of the program. “I look forward to coming here. Everyone is kind and encouraging, and it’s a good environment.”

His favorite part about FSTA? Connecting with his peers and members of the CFBNJ staff.

“To see that there are people coming together and unifying for a shared mission makes me happy to be part of this dynamic,” he told us.

To future FSTA students, he had this advice: “No matter what else you have going on in your life, you’re never going to regret investing in yourself. Don’t give up, even when things get difficult.”