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5 entrepreneurs receive ACRE funding

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The Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship has selected five state agribusinesses for funding and/or mentoring from 30 applicants in its first pitch competition.

The ACRE Entrepreneurship Program will provide resources to Matt Miller of Manchester Farms in Columbia; Sam Norton of Heron Farms in Charleston; George Nelson of SweetBay Produce in Huger (Berkeley County); Janice Ryan-Bohac of CAREnergy in Smoaks (Colleton County); and Robbie Weathers of Southern Crop Solutions in Holly Hill.

Miller is co-owner of Manchester Farms, the oldest quail producer in the U.S. He will use ACRE funding to produce and market Quail Qwap, a nutrient-rich compost made from quail manure, grass clippings and cotton waste.

Nelson will use ACRE funding to provide fresh food to the community through the addition of a farm camp and a farm school program.

Norton applied for product research and development funding for Heron Farms, the first saltwater farm in the U.S., which grows the native marsh plant halophyte Salicornia (called sea beans or saltwort). Norton sells the plant’s fruiting spikes to Charleston restaurants.

Ryan-Bohac has developed a sweet potato with a mealy texture and less oil that she said is ideal for making chips and fries and hopes will increase consumer demand and farmer contracts. She will use ACRE funding to recruit potential investors.

Weathers created Southern Crop Solutions, a precision agriculture company, in 2015. Weathers will use ACRE funding to hire and train employees who provide technology solutions for farmers from installing auto steering systems on tractors to performing soil sampling.

“This inaugural group of ACRE entrepreneurs represents a broad range of agriculture in South Carolina, and the start of a new initiative to expand agribusiness and economic development in our state,” S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said in a news release. “Our plan is to grow this program annually and ultimately to bring new industries to South Carolina.”

ACRE project coordinator Kyle Player said the five recipients best represented ACRE’s vision.

For more information on ACRE initiatives, contact Player at 803-734-2324 or

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