Standing in his field full of crops that he intends solely for donation, Charleston’s most generous man shows off his beautiful purple top turnips.
I have had the pleasure of spending the last few weeks out on Wadmalaw Island on the property of a man I shall call Farmer John. We connected through an organized gleaning but he is becoming a regular fixture in my life. He is so genuine, giving, and funny that its hard to stay away! Today I brought one of my friends out with me to visit the property and we were treated to a tour of a number of other farm properties. For anyone that does not have a lot of farm experience, it might seem if all farms are probably pretty similar. The reality is, that every farmer has their own style and every property has its own unique features. I could visit every farm in SC and probably never get bored. One may have a three acre long irrigation pond, the other relies only on rain. Some have animals, others are strictly vegetables. One farmer only grows tomatoes, another every vegetable possible. Organic, conventional, or a mix of both. Most of them will tell you that they way they farm is “the right way”- convinced that they have perfected the exact seed source, planting time, irrigation schedule, pest control, harvesting technique, and packing material. At any given time I have been told it is not possible to grow corn, citrus, pumpkins, bananas, or peaches in Charleston but I have seen them all here. I was told it is not possible to grow organically here but I have worked on two successful organic farms AND those farms are nothing a like. Clearly what works and possible for one person on their land can be drastically different with a different farmer on another property. That is one thing I am really starting to love about farming- that it is a custom operation. You can grow what you want, how you want, and give it to whoever you want.
If I had a farm, it would be designed using the principles of permaculture, with a little bit of everything, and animals galore. I would do it out of love and just like Farmer John, I would give what I could to those in need. Until then, I will continue to learn from the genius, creativity, and ingenuity of the farmers that have spent their life finding their own way.