A Furman Shi-Center fellowship reflection by Bennett Burkholder
The time is 7 am as I slowly drive on to Horseshoe Farm located in Travelers Rest SC. The birds are singing, and the crickets are chirping as the new day begins. I can smell the dew evaporating and the aromatic scent of fresh dirt wafts on the air. This experience is one I will not forget. There is a calm serenity that seems to permeate with the light that glimpses through the finger like branches of the trees. With a deep inhale I slide on my work gloves. I know that the day will be fulfilling.
My first class in Sustainability is what peaked my interest in food systems, specifically in production. I did not grow up on a farm and trips to fast food joints were common in our house hold. Throughout my classes, I learned of different cause and effects our current global food production system produces. From destruction of the rain forest for cattle and palm oil production to the massive amounts of emissions from the industry that are contributing to our current climate destabilization. What could I do about this? The immediate answer was, not much besides loving and kind conversations with family and friends regarding the impacts of their food decisions. Then came an opportunity to participate with a newly started Sustainable and organic farm through the Shi-Center! I applied for the summer fellowship with the intent to experience exactly what it takes to produce sustainable food.
The operation at horseshoe is unlike any other normal farm. The owner Chris Miller is adamant that use of sprays and tillage are detrimental to good produce. In his words “I would rather lose some extra crops in order to make sure that what comes out of this farm is free of pesticides and chemicals”. What this means for the farm is a healthy dose of good hard work. I had the opportunity to spend much of this summer building compost beds, planting seedlings and harvesting the fruit of our labor. Rain or shine we put in the work and this summer horseshoe farm successfully provided produce to the Anchorage in east Greenville, the Travelers Rest Farmers market, and a 42 share Community Supported Agriculture account. To provide others with a guilt free and healthy alternative to supermarket produce has been a great blessing in my life. It is my belief that our food systems should hold greater value in our society. Small start up farms like horseshoe can pave the way for feeding local populations and returning to smaller more resilient food production methods.