Profiles

Advanced Entrepreneurship Program

Agribusiness Planning Curriculum

Spring 2021

Vital Mission Farm

Wadmalaw Island, SC  |  Jeff Siewicki

Located in the Lowcountry of South Carolina is Vital Mission Farm, a regenerative and environmentally conscious agribusiness. Jeff Siewicki has witnessed the firsthand effects of climate change and made it his mission to grow food that’s good for people, animals, land, and the environment. The farming practices Jeff has implemented, like rotational grazing, silvopasture, perennial plantings, and agroforestry, are intended to help reverse climate change. Their primary products are pastured poultry, with an emphasis on deck eggs and meat. Vital Mission even sells specialty value-added products like duck prosciutto, duck confit, and bone broth. You can find their pastured poultry at farmers markets around the state.

 

Crescent Farm

Clinton & Laurens, SC  |  Margie Levine

Crescent Farm is a woman-owned farm in Laurens County, SC growing USDA certified organic vegetables for Swamp Rabbit Café and GrowFood Carolina. They primarily focus their wholesale offerings on carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, and kale, but they don’t stop there. They also grow 17 supplemental crops for their Annual Farm Box membership. Under the leadership of owner Margie Levine and with the help of her daughter, Holly, and son-in-law, Jon Welch, Crescent Farm frequently participates in seed trials to create vegetable varieties well suited to their region. In doing so, they strengthen the regional food system and give themself the ability to produce unique varieties for a niche market. With the help of the ACRE grant, Crescent Farm intends to develop new field space on their recently acquired property.

 

Spring 2020

Project Victory Gardens

Townville, SC  |  Matthew and Kara Rutter

After serving a combined forty-five years in the United States Army, the Rutters are now the main liaisons between retiring service members and agriculture for our state. Centrally located in Aiken between two major military bases, Project Victory Gardens is a beautiful, twenty-acre farm set up for teaching and personal growth alike. There, the Rutters teach veterans the basics of how to farm, advanced techniques (including aquaponics), animal rearing and butchering, entrepreneurship, and resiliency training. With the ACRE grant, they built a certified farm kitchen to broaden their capacity for agricultural education.

 

Nance Creamery

McConnells, SC  |  William and Caci Nance

As traditional dairies collapsed all over the state, the Nances knew that they would have to change their business strategy. Thus, they have speedily pivoted to bottling and selling their delicious milk directly to the consumers of York and Chester counties. “The ACRE grant was a wonderful kickstart to our new creamery,” Caci reports, allowing them to purchase crucial refrigeration equipment. Nance Creamery has fulfilled an unmet need for the region, and already, they are looking for ways to expand their wildly popular product line.

 

Spring 2019

Circular Farm*

Aiken, SC  |  Ben Crawford and Rebecca Goldberg

Circular Farm is an ambitious startup in Aiken, SC that plans to bring a proprietary container farming system and local mushroom production to the entire county and beyond. Goldberg relates that the curriculum program “gave us a strong understanding of our current finances, and in addition to business plan development, we gained critical knowledge in networking, marketing and finance.” With their ACRE grant, they plan to purchase and outfit another shipping container, “tripling our production capabilities and income.”

 

Covered in Cotton 

Darlington, SC  |  Ty and Tracy Woodard

Based on a third-generation row crop farm, Covered in Cotton uses their own cotton and an all-Carolinas supply chain to produce high-end throws, hand towels, and blankets. Driven by a past medical crisis, the Woodards have also donated over 165 throws to children’s hospitals around the state. They used the ACRE grant to expand their product line, and, later in the year, were named the overall winner of the Garden & Gun Made in the South Awards. Determined to capitalize on this early success, Tracy reflects that ACRE support has “allowed us the opportunity to network with industry professionals, connect with much needed small business resources, and fund our new product lines.

 

Table Rock Tea Co.

Pickens, SC  |  Steve Lorch

After doing nonprofit work with Kenyan tea farmers in 2006, the Lorches decided to see if this ancient crop could survive in Upstate South Carolina. And survive it did: today, Table Rock Tea Co. has over 25,000 plants, oversees a local tea consortium network, receives over a thousand tourists every year and carries a wide range of tea products. Lorch states that “the ACRE grant helped us purchase a bagging machine that we could not otherwise afford. As a result, we’ve picked up more clients and have seen an increase in retail interest. We are grateful to the folks at ACRE for recognizing and investing in our potential.

 

Spring 2018

Carolina Pride Pastures*

Pomaria, SC  |  Alicia Holbrook

Located in Newberry County, this innovative farm sells yarn products made from the fleece of their alpaca herd. Their participation in the curriculum helped them refine their business plan and identify areas for growth, and over the next year, the farm saw their online sales increase by 20% and farm visitor numbers by 25%. They used their ACRE grant to update their website and increase marketing efforts and are still seeing the effects today.

 

Heron Farms

Charleston, SC  |  Sam Norton

Sam Norton’s idea for Heron Farms stemmed from his College of Charleston graduate school thesis where he had the idea to restore saltmarshes, one sea bean at a time. Sea beans, also known as Salicornia or sea asparagus, are part of the succulent family and are made up of 98% water. They can be found growing along coastal waters, on banks of saltwater marshes, and in the first ever indoor saltwater farm, also known as Heron Farms’ Charleston warehouse. With the help of SCDA’s ACRE program and other resources, Heron Farms has sense been picked up by meal kit industry giants and have plans to expand their operations to California.

 

 

*Awardees went through ACRE’s Curriculum program and then participated and won ACRE’s advanced program

Fall 2021

Whippoorwill Farms SC

Ridgeland, SC  |  Marissa Paykos

Jasper County is home to Whippoorwill Farms, a biodiverse regenerative farm owned and operated by Marissa Paykos and her family. They got their start in 2017 and have since grown into a 40-acre farm and agritourism destination. You can expect to purchase their nutrient dense, organically grown vegetables and humanly raised meat and egg products at Lowcountry farmers markets or their Pay What You Can Produce Stand. If you want to experience all the farm has to offer firsthand, Whippoorwill Farms invites you to take one of their enriching educational opportunities or spend a night on the farm at one of their campsites or tiny homes for guests to stay and explore.

 

Feast & Flora

Charleston, SC  |  Laura Mewbourn

Located in the heart of the Lowcountry, Feast & Flora is a women-owned specialty cut flower operation established from a passion for teaching and memories of southern gardens. Laura Mewbourn is the owner and designer of these “freshly gathered” styled bouquets that have made their way into weddings, styled photoshoots, and everything in between. Since they were established in 2017, Feast & Flora is one of the only florists in the Charleston area that grow much of the product they use. With this being one of their driving factors and substantial selling points, they hope to put the funding provided by the ACRE program to the opening of their brick-and-mortar store, enhancing their overall business operations.

 

Fall 2020

Sweetgrass Roots

Walterboro, SC  |  Kisha Kinard

Based around production of the Lowcountry’s most famous artisan crop – sweetgrass – this startup farm envisions a future based around cultural rejuvenation and agricultural learning. Founder Kisha Kinard, an expert sweetgrass weaver, has a love for the folk arts and distinctiveness of the Lowcountry, and hopes to inspire visitors with farm-based education and crafts. Gourds and sweetgrass are the crops of the present, but the future holds a variety of crops that have played integral roles in Lowcountry history. Along with her husband Charles, an Army veteran, Kisha has big plans for farm growth, and they used the ACRE grant to purchase a multi-purpose shed to aid expansion.

 

Fall 2019

Woodland Valley Mushrooms

Aiken, SC  |  Ben Crawford and Rebecca Goldberg

Woodland Valley Mushrooms is an ambitious startup in Aiken, SC that plans to bring a proprietary container farming system and local mushroom production to the entire county and beyond. Goldberg relates that the curriculum program “gave us a strong understanding of our current finances, and in addition to business plan development, we gained critical knowledge in networking, marketing and finance.” With their ACRE grant, they plan to purchase and outfit another shipping container, “tripling our production capabilities and income.”

 

Fall 2018

Carolina Pride Pastures

Pomaria, SC  |  Alicia Holbrook

Located in Newberry County, this innovative farm sells yarn products made from the fleece of their alpaca herd. Their participation in the curriculum helped them refine their business plan and identify areas for growth, and over the next year, the farm saw their online sales increase by 20% and farm visitor numbers by 25%. They used their ACRE grant to update their website and increase marketing efforts and are still seeing the effects today.

 

Briar Hill Farm

Pickens, SC  |  Belinda Smith

Briar Hill Farm provides specialty cut flowers to retailers and stores in the Upstate. Smith has a passion for giving everyone the opportunity to buy quality, local flowers, and has diligently grown her farm through grit and determination. She used her ACRE grant to purchase equipment to scale up operations at the farm.