The Local Life: Goodbye, my dear Lowcountry

Goodbyes are never easy. A cut to the chase: I will be moving to Athens, Ga., in October to be closer to my family, and this is my farewell column.

The Coastal Conservation League will continue to be represented in Lowcountry Life by our new South Coast office director, Steve Eames. I won't tell you too much about him, because this column is about me, it is my goodbye. Suffice it to say I am extremely confident that the South Coast is in good hands.

My nearly five years in Beaufort and with the Coastal Conservation League have shaped me in so many ways. After 18 years in New York City, Beaufort softened sharp edges. The landscape does that -- water peeking around every corner, through every crack that we let it creep.

I am not originally from New York. I was raised on another Southern coast -- Jacksonville Beach, Fla. As I grew up, I watched giant condominiums diminish my connection to the ocean. Everyone wanted to be close to the beach and this was their answer -- build as much as they could as close to the water as possible. There was little comprehension that the connection unavoidably runs both ways.

By 1985 my neighborhood had been radically transformed into an undesirable place to live -- the connection to the water there has been permanently severed for those who grew up with it. When I left for college, I knew I was never coming back.

The Beaufort area has a real chance to preserve that connection, and I dearly hope you do. I have many hopes for the future of this area.

I hope that there is a wholehearted embrace of the current planning efforts by the City of Beaufort with the Office of Civic Reinvestment. Your input in this plan is what will make it work. Lack of good planning destroyed my original home. The core of Beaufort has fortunately been preserved as it was originally planned. It has a fighting chance.

I also hope that both Beaufort and Jasper counties formally adopt watershed-based planning models. We ignore the watershed at our own peril. Our building and development patterns can destroy our waterways -- or they can help improve them. I hope residents and local leaders make good, thoughtful decisions. If we don't, the cost is indeed a loss of connection to our water in the form of an inability to enjoy safe shellfish, fish and swimming -- all so much a way of life here.

There is so much potential for small, sustainable farms in this area. My hope is that farms like the Brant Family Farm, Three Sisters, Marshview Organic and Bear Island Farm inspire copycats throughout our two counties.

As sad as I am to leave Beaufort behind, I am very excited to have the opportunity to be working full time with sustainable agriculture and local food access. My new job is with the Daily Groceries Food Cooperative in Athens. For those of you who know me, or even just read these columns, you know that farms and food are my strongest inspiration.

I am incredibly excited to be devoting myself to positive alternatives to our current, broken food system. I will be leading the co-op through a very exciting period of growth and expansion with a major focus on the role that the co-op plays in the distribution of local food and access to this food for those with the least financial resources.

The cooperative model is a very exciting model to those of us eager to reconnect with our food. Beaufort has its own model for distribution of local food, SILO (, please support it. I will surely be maintaining a close relationship with SILO, sharing ideas and inspiration as we both grow. This professional connection will be some comfort to me as I get used to life without the Lowcountry.

Thank you to all of you who have made me feel so welcome in Beaufort, in the town and in my work. It has been a privilege to be even a small part of preserving all that is special in this remarkable place.

Andrea Malloy is the interim director of the South Coast office of the Coastal Conservation League.