COLUMBIA — Innovative ideas on how to succeed in their different farming and enterprises are what graduates of Clemson’s New and Beginning Farmers Program Class of 2016 bring to the table following completion of the program.
Members of the Clemson New and Beginning Farmer Class of 2016 are ready to use their knowledge to help grow their family farms.
Forty-five farmers from across South Carolina were recognized May 19 for completing the program, which just ended its fourth year. The program is a seven-month course directed by Dave Lamie, associate professor and Extension specialist.
“The focus of this program is to help new and beginning farmers be successful, productive and innovative members of their local agricultural communities,” Lamie said. “Topics covered during the program include business planning, land acquisition and leasing, marketing, regulatory matters, legal issues, food safety, insurance, soil health and more.”
During a ceremony marking the end of the course, some of the participants shared business plans they had created based on lessons they had learned. Utilizing different advertising methods was one topic that kept coming up during the presentations.
“We learned word of mouth is usually the best advertisement a business can get,” said Barbara Southworth of Mount Pleasant.
Southworth’s business partner, Lucas Snyder, agreed.
“If people enjoy themselves and have a pleasant experience, they will tell their family and friends,” Snyder said. “Their family and friends will come, have a pleasant experience and tell their family and friends, and so on.”
Wilhelmenia Brockington and Akil Inniss from Charleston participated in the program so they could learn how “to revive a dying family farm.”
Brockington said taking the course helped her realize how important marketing is today.
“Growing up on a farm, I thought I knew it all,” she said. “But after taking this class, I’ve found there is a lot I need to digest. This has been a wonderful experience.”
Lisa Rees also is reviving a family farm, Five Forks Sustainable Farm in Pageland. Learning how to use a high tunnel to grow tomatoes is one example of something she learned from the class.
“We have been very successful,” Rees said. “This (high tunnel) could be the key to growing tomatoes. The potential in our area is great for locally grown produce.”
Joe Murphy of Charleston doesn’t have a farm but participated in the course because he wants to help others learn how to grow their own food. Murphy works at The Center for Heirs’ Property Preservation and plans to use knowledge he’s reaped by attending the class to helped historically underserved landowners sow new beginnings.
“Education is our focus at the Center,” Murphy said. “We hold workshops, events and things like that to produce education for landowners. We produce a network for landowners to use to help them find places to sell their crops.”
The South Carolina New and Beginning Farmer Program begins its fifth year in October 2016. New, beginning and emerging farmers age 18 or older, residing in South Carolina, with less than 10 consecutive years of farming experience are welcome to apply. The application period opens as early as mid-June. Interested parties may get additional information and apply online by visiting www.clemson.edu/public/newfarmer/.
To read about other business plans from members of the New and Beginning Farmer Class of 2016, go to http://bit.ly/25yhKXF. Keep up with the program by following it on Facebook @SCNBFP.
In addition to Brockington, Inniss, Murphy, Rees, Southworth and Snyder, others recognized for completing the course were:
• David Bishop and Mary Tilton of Charleston
• Emily Bryan of Columbia
• Steven Bryant of North Augusta
• Anne Burke of Columbia
• Rebecca Carmondy of Wadmalaw Island
• Jason Collins of Waterloo
• Laura Collins of Fountain Inn
• Leslie Dean of Hemingway
• Dan Dent of Walhalla
• Ryan Dunagin of Spartanburg
• Matthew Eiken and Janna Melia Eiken of Simpsonville
• Karrie Fulcher of Greenville
• Derek Garrett and Mary Allison Garrett of Greer
• Ron Goff of Williams
• Seth Guest of Ware Shoals
• Thomas “T.R.” Hoffman of Lugoff
• Robert “Bob” Holcombe and Susan Holcombe of Pendleton
• Carey Howell and Natalie Howell of Fort Mill
• John Lawton of Cleveland
• Darrell McNeil of Spartanburg
• William “Will” Metts of Greenwood
• John A. Miller of Eastover
• Rudick “Joe” Murphy of Charleston
• Sarah Noriega of Columbia
• Walter C. “Cal” Norris and Patricia Norris of Trenton
• Timothy Peoples of Lamar
• Cindy Riffle of Enoree
• Torin Ruppert of Blythewood
• Bradley Smith of Greenville
• William Turner of Boiling Springs
• LeTanya Williams of Chester
• Michele Williams of Manning
• Janice Wyatt of Blenheim
Information for this article provided by Clemson University.