Agribusiness Planning Curriculum
Fort Lawn, SC | Emily and John Barnes
In Fort Lawn, South Carolina, Emily, and her husband John Barnes work from dusk to dawn procuring, raising, and processing barley-finished cattle and purebred Berkshire Hogs to produce premium quality beef and pork. Through their e-commerce website, Bravo Steaks, LLC ships individually packaged and frozen 21 day dry-aged beef and pork products direct to homes nationwide. In weekly and monthly subscription boxes they offer a variety of thick-cut, bone-in steaks and chops, as well as hickory smoked bacon, Canadian bacon, and pork sausages, just to name a few. Thanks to Emily’s frequent social media updates straight from the farm, Bravo Steaks continues to build customer rapport and reinvent what it means to be transparent.
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.
Aiken, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Woodruff, SC | Ginger Nichols
As the only commercial aquaponics farm in the state, Naturally Fresh Farms already serves a unique niche. Their product list is lengthy, ranging from lettuce and herbs to Brussels sprouts and tomatillos, and just about everything in between. With the ACRE grant, they retrofitted their first greenhouse to improve biosecurity, and increased their educational outreach, especially to the special needs community of the area. The farm is growing rapidly, and Ginger and her team see a bright future ahead!
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.
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.”
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.
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.