Land trust takes first steps toward St. Helena community farm

gmartin@islandpacket.comNovember 14, 2011 

Drivers on the Sea Island Parkway now breeze past a seven-acre pasture on St. Helena Island largely overrun with native grasses.

But by summer, they'll see a thriving community garden, where residents can harvest fruits and vegetables, say Beaufort County Open Land Trust officials.

To support that endeavor, representatives from Lowe's delivered lawn equipment to a Laurel Bay farm Monday morning, where it will remain until the land trust is ready to begin work on the St. Helena plot.

The trust, which typically spearheads efforts to conserve county land, is broadening its mission with the farm, according to conservation director Garrett Budds.

"Our overarching goal is to protect land, and there's a natural synergy between preserving active farmland and building a local food system," Budds said.

The trust secured the materials -- a riding mower, a shed, shingles and paint -- through a grant from Lowe's.

"We're hoping to put shovels to earth this spring," Budds said, adding that he envisions raised beds, row crops and even an orchard.

"We'd like this to become a teaching facility to show people how to farm using sustainable practices," he said, "and also to distribute much of the food grown to people that need it."

The trust is eyeing similar projects throughout Beaufort County, according to Budds, with the goal of creating a series of neighborhood farms and gardens.

Meanwhile, the donated equipment will be stored at The Farm at Habersham, a nine-acre plot praised by Budds as "a model of local agriculture at a neighborhood scale."

Its manager, David Hislop, maintains a modest garden and chicken coop on the property and said he'll use the shed to store some of his materials until the St. Helena farm is ready.

"It's good to be involved with the land trust on a project like this," Hislop said.

Follow reporter Grant Martin at

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