Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lowcountry Local First presents the first Incubator Farm in South Carolina



Andrea Limehouse (Limehouse Produce), Nikki Seibert (LLF), Will Furman (USDA) , and Jamee Haley (LLF) cut the ribbon at Dirt Works Incubator Farm


Great logo design is part of the LLF marketing strategy at Dirt Works.


Men in Denim: John Warren and Andrew Werth - Farmers of Spade and Clover

Andrew Werth, of Spade& Clover Farm, explains, “Diversity is security”. At the Dirt Works Farm on John’s Island, he and John Warren focus on growing new crops to sell to local restaurants. They grow varietals and plants they say chefs have never seen grown in the lowcountry. Harleston Towles, of Driftwood Downs, shows off the Arbequina Olive saplings that will hopefully flourish in the South Carolina heat. His inspiration comes from innovative farmers in Georgia, who were the first to attempt to commercially grow olive trees on the East Coast of the US since the 1800’s. Bo Collins of Sol Haven Farms gathers organic detritus from local fishermen and lumberyards. He blends them together to create fish compost that he and the other farmers use to add nutrients to the sandy lowcountry soil. Each of these farmers has a different vision for how to best utilize their space on the Dirt Works farm. Eventually they will sell produce, flowers and other products at local farmer’s markets throughout the city.

Farmer Bo Collins shows off the locally sourced fish compost he is creating on the Sol-Haven plot.



Gina Perez of Fiddle Farms explains how the sugar cane she has planted is going to grow around her plot to create a natural wind-break.
Harleston Towles and his Arbequina Olive Tree Saplings

All of these farmers have the opportunity to experiment because they are part of the Dirt Works Incubator farm. Six farmers were chosen to care for 1-2 acre plots where they are encouraged to experiment with a variety of crops and farming methods. Dirt Works is the first “incubator farm” in South Carolina, based on similar models throughout the country; these organizations foster the development of young farmers through education, apprenticeship, and mentoring. Moving forward Lowcountry Local First, through a partnership with The Limehouse Family, USDARural Development, David Thompson Architects, Steen Enterprises, the BB&TCharleston Wine & Food Festival, among other local organizations, is working to pair new farmers with land plots and provide farmers with business and marketing education. 

Jim Martin Shows off his new honey bees and marketing strategy for Compost in my Shoe

While speaking to director Jamee Haley, over a Westbrook Bearded Farmer brew, I teared up thinking how blessed we are to live in such a caring, nurturing and beautiful environment. LLF’s membership brochure proclaims, “Choose to love the place you choose to live.”  That’s what Charleston is all about. We can all appreciate the community created by the Eat Local movement. Jamee and a team of volunteers work incredibly hard to make Charleston a better place to live and we cannot express enough gratitude for their efforts. 

Representatives of Kiawah Cares and other sponsors enjoyed a farm tour and a taste of local farm food. 


A beautiful day on John's Island at Dirt Works Farm
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