What a trip! Southern hospitality is not just a saying; we experienced it first hand during our excellent AgriPOWER Class VII trip, coordinated by the South Carolina Farm Bureau. From landing in Columbia on Thursday to taking off from Charleston on Saturday afternoon, it was full speed ahead and complete immersion into the culture and agriculture of the Palmetto state!
Thursday morning we hit the ground running! From the airport we headed to our first stop, WP Rawl Farms. The family farm grows specialty vegetables and several types of greens, including mustard, chard, lettuce and green onions. They go from field to packed box in less than a day. Utilizing innovative packing and blended salad products, they provide convenient vegetable options that wow consumers!
Our next stop was Titan Farms, the largest peach grower in South Carolina. We started our tour by seeing some of the orchard blocks. In our 30 minute drive around the area we saw several blocks of newly planted and 15-year-old mature trees in soils that varied from rich red clay to a tan sandy loam. Of the many varieties they grow, one early bloomer had little pink buds starting to show color! That variety would be in full bloom in another few weeks, and full orchard bloom is anticipated in mid April. We saw many blocks of beautiful trees, but it was only a drop in the bucket of the 5,000 acres of roughly 1 million trees they manage!
We also toured their packing shed. Huge tanks are used to hydro-cool the peaches to take them from field temperature to cooler storage temperature, so they can store longer and ship better. The massive packing line utilizes a vision system and photographs of each piece of fruit to ensure buyers and consumers get the exact peach they are looking for! They ship produce to 30 states; over 2.5 million boxes of peaches a year! The farm is no one hit wonder; they also grow and pack over 300 acres each of bell peppers and broccoli and utilize space in their packing shed to prepare and box the vegetables as well.
The final tour for the day was at Satterwhite Farms; a 1,500 cow dairy, owned and operated by three generations of a great family. We had the pleasure of seeing their 60 stall carousel parlor in action! The family created a gallery above the offices to ensure curious visitors could get the best view of the huge spinning doughnut! In 9 minutes a cow makes the full rotation. I’ve seen happy cows in South Carolina, and they get three joy rides a day!
All of this just on day one of the trip!
Apply for AgriPOWER Class VIII by April 15.
Read more from other AgriPOWER Class VII participant
Session 1 blogs
Vicky Shaw discussed her experience in the program’s first session learning about her strength and picking up public speaking tips.
Angela Shoemaker discussed her experience in the program’s first session and learning to step out of her comfort zone.
Session 2 blogs
Chris Kick blogged about interacting with the media and being an effective spokesperson.
Sara Campbell wrote about using storytelling in conversations with consumers and visiting Turner Farms.
Session 3 blogs
Josh Henderson blogged about truly having a voice in Washington.
Libby Bender shared her experience meeting with the authors of the EPA’s WOTUS rule and meeting with her congressman.
Heidi White wrote about learning more about trade at the New Zealand Embassy.
Session 4 blogs
Lara Staples wrote about learning what state government and the people who run it are really like.
Stephanie Leis blogged about the speakers from session 4 and their connection to agriculture.
Jenny Meyer discussed inspiration to share her story more.
Session 5 blogs
Jeff Adams blogged about learning more about tax law and CAUV.
Shelly Detwiler wrote about local government, school funding and oil and gas production.
Session 6 blogs
Matt Schlegel wrote about some of the peanut and cotton harvesting equipment the class saw on their trip to South Carolina.
Steven Ruggles shared what he learned about vegetable farming in South Carolina and the similarities and difference between vegetable farming and grain farming.
Jami Willard of Columbus wrote about the whirlwind tour of South Carolina’s agriculture that Class VII experienced.
Session 7 blogs
Elaine Beekman of Wellington blogged about this final session not being the end of the learning from AgriPOWER.
Kayla Jones of Newark wrote about volunteering at Highland Youth Garden during the final session.
Mandy Way of Chillicothe blogged about her experience in AgriPOWER reviving her passion for agriculture.
Meet other Class VII graduates.
AgriPOWER is an elite training program designed to help participants become community leaders and advocates for agriculture.