Tuesday, April 18, 2017 Blog

How GrowFood Carolina cultivates connections

by Sara Clow

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I wish I could share stories from every farm visit with you. Your support enables these visits, and they are by far the most important thing we do. I learn something new each time—and although operating as a ‘middle man’—GrowFood Carolina strives to market a farmer’s products as the farmers themselves would. Every once in a while, we are able to physically connect a buyer to a farmer, and the real magic happens.

I hope you will enjoy reading one story from a recent farm visit and consider making a gift to support GrowFood Carolina, the Coastal Conservation League’s food hub.

We took Chelsey Conrad, the executive chef of Charleston’s Butcher & Bee, on the scenic route to Rosebank Farms to meet Sidi (“Sye-dye”) Limehouse. Sidi is a gifted and prolific farmer. He grows 50 different fruit and vegetables, including kale, sugar snap peas, rutabaga and three kinds of okra. He will soon deliver vine-ripened tomatoes to GrowFood Carolina’s warehouse, including Cherokee purples, his favorite heirloom variety. Chelsey has made a strong commitment to support local farmers and consistently sources fresh, seasonal ingredients through GrowFood Carolina, including produce from Sidi. On this visit, farmer and chef explore Rosebank Farm’s 60 acres and connect over the virtues of a good home-cooked meal and how best to steep clover for herbal tea.

A native of James Island, Sidi has spent his whole adult life farming on Kiawah and Johns Island, but in recent years has had to move his farming operation around to make way for new development. In addition to touring the farm, Sidi felt it was important to also show us around the newly developed areas. There is now a shopping center where Sidi once grew beans, corn and tomatoes. His new fields are nearby, but seem out of place next to a high-end furniture design store, an Asian fusion restaurant and a busy carwash.

“I’d rather see a bean field than this bull crap,” he comments as we drive. Chelsey smiles in agreement.

The Coastal Conservation League’s food hub helps Sidi more efficiently distribute to regional retailers and restaurants, including Chelsey’s Butcher & Bee. He describes his experience with GrowFood as excellent and said he believes he receives fair prices for what he grows. Sidi is especially appreciative of GrowFood’s support, recognizing first-hand the benefits of working and partnering with folks close to home.

To date, GrowFood Carolina has returned more than $3.2 million to South Carolina farmers, enabling them to stay on their land and continue farming. But, we need your support. To protect productive land and provide farmers like Sidi more opportunities to succeed, not fewer. To make it easier to source local fruits and vegetables, not tougher. To support your personal health and the health of our communities. Please consider donating to GrowFood Carolina today to advance and continue this work.



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