Incubator farm gives young farmers a start without the risk

JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCIV) - The average age of a South Carolina farmer is 59 - Some Lowcountry organizations are trying to bring that number down and give young, aspiring farmers a start, without the financial{}risk.

Lowcountry Local First,{}which advocates the benefits of local living and economy, has teamed with{}a number of local businesses to cultivate an incubator farm on Johns Island.{}

"The incubator farm is very similar to business incubation. Instead of giving someone an office and a computer, we're giving them land and a tractor and a packing shed," said{}Nikki Seibert, Director of Sustainable Agriculture for Lowcountry Local First.

"So we're trying to get these new and beginning farmers some resources to get going. Each farmer can lease property from us and they get one to two acres, over roughly three years, and we provide them with all the tools, resources, training so they can succeed as young farmers," she said.

The group held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning at the DirtWorks property at Rosebank Farms.

Seibert says it's important to give farmers a start and teach them the necessary skills to succeed.

"If you were a new and beginning farmer starting out and you had to buy your land and put in a well, and do irrigation, build a packing facility - you're talking 10's of thousands of dollars and major loans. It would take them years to pay back, if ever. And it's such a high-risk job being a farmer. You're an entrepreneur, you're a weather man, and you're a business man. You're hoping for a good crops, and a good yield, and a good market, so we're just trying to reduce some of the risk for these farmers," said Seibert.

If you're interested in buying a plot or just learning more about the incubator farm, you can visit Lowcountry Local First HERE.