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9 agribusiness entrepreneurs win share of $150,000 in funding

Melinda Waldrop //June 23, 2022//

9 agribusiness entrepreneurs win share of $150,000 in funding

Melinda Waldrop //June 23, 2022//

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Nine agribusiness entrepreneurs have been awarded a share of $150,000 in the latest round of the S.C. Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship funding.

The businesses range from an oyster and mushroom farm to a mobile coffee truck and include the most agribusinesses focused on sustainability in the program’s history, according to a news release. Of the awardees, five had previously participated in ACRE’s Agribusiness Planning Curriculum program for beginning entrepreneurs.

SCDA founded ACRE in 2018 to help identify and nurture agribusiness innovation.

“We are excited to see agribusinesses who previously participated in our Curriculum Program now being able to pursue more funding resources under the Advanced Program,” Kyle Player, ACRE executive director, said in the release.

Fourteen finalists pitched business plans to a panel of judges who selected the winners based on business plans, a video pitch and need for capital.

“ACRE does a phenomenal job of helping homegrown agribusinesses advance their operations through funding and industry connections,” S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said. “I look forward to seeing how these entrepreneurs’ success impacts South Carolina’s agriculture industry.”

This year’s winners, representing seven S.C. counties are:  

  • Earth People Farms, based in Beaufort County, is owned by sister and brother duo Najmah and Glen Thomas, whose product lines include a collection of herbs and herbal products in the tradition of their African and Gullah/Geechee heritage.
  • Harleston Towles is the owner of Rooting Down Farms, The Twenty Bag, and his newest business venture, Sandy Point Citrus. Towles plans to grow specialty citrus fruits including Meyer lemons, ruby red grapefruits, and satsuma mandarin oranges in Charleston County.
  • Marissa Paykos owns and operates 40-acre Whippoorwill Farms SC in Jasper County. Pork, chicken, eggs and vegetables are produced at the farm and agritourism.
  • Lightning Rock Land & Cattle, a veteran- and woman-owned, 142-acre farm in Charleston County, is owned by husband and wife Trey and Corrine Wright. The farm focuses focus on land regeneration, carbon sequestration, and raising heritage breed cattle in an environmentally friendly way.
  • Jay and Rose Lewis have operated Rebecca Farms in Florence County since 2010. The vertically integrated operation grows high-quality, affordable oyster and shiitake mushrooms.
  • In Dorchester County, Rita Bachmann began Rita’s Roots Backyard Harvest in 2011 as an organic garden consultation service. Now the full-service operation includes a nursery division that supplies high-quality, seasonal vegetables, cut and pollinator flowers, and herb plants.
  • Feast & Flora is a woman-owned commercial cut flower farm on Wadmalaw Island. Owner and lead designer Laura Mewbourn also has a brick-and-mortar design studio in Charleston.
  • Rambling Rosa Farms is a seven-acre farm in Pickens County owned and operated by Brittany Arsiniega. The farm grows diversified vegetables using organic methods, rescues farm animals and offers educational classes and community events.
  • The CoffeeLady31, a minority- and woman-owned business in Spartanburg County, began operations in a home kitchen. Owner Cecelia Miller now operates a mobile coffee truck as well as an apothecary and herb farm.