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Diversity is Security

Written by Robin Riebman on Friday, 05 April 2013. Posted in Magazine, Eat This Spring 2013

Diversity is Security

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.

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, USDA Rural Development, David Thompson Architects, Steen Enterprises, the BB&T Charleston Wine & Food Festival, among other local organizations, is working to pair new farmers with land plots and provide farmers with business and marketing education.

While speaking to director Jamee Hayley, 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.

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Robin Riebman

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