The Market Garden Blog 2 of 3 – “Save the World! An Interview with Jason Roland of Organically Roland Farms”
Organically Roland Farms is a small farm in Lexington County that is both a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and a supplier of fresh produce to local restaurants. The Richland Library’s Business and Careers Department visited Jason’s farm to learn more about this type of small business and discuss Jason’s personal experiences in market gardening. I would like to thank Jason Roland for taking time out of his busy schedule to show us around his farm and sharing information about seasonal plantings and new projects like growing mushrooms in plastic buckets.
1.Describe yourself/your business and your personal journey into managing/owning an agribusiness?
I own and operate my 2-acre market garden, Organically Roland, and this is the only thing I have ever done. I started selling to restaurants when I was 16/17 and I just went from there. We grew up very poor, so the veggie garden was always a necessity to help feed us, but it was a place of happiness and solace as well. I also have a form of Autism which can make social things hard for me, so this has just turned out to be the perfect “job”- not that I consider it that. This is a lifestyle, and I love it deeply.
2. What sets your business apart from other small farms?
Honestly, nothing! I think most of us small farmers try very hard to grow the best we can while also helping the planet as much as possible.
3. What is your favorite part about farming?
Loving my plant babies every single day and seeing happy customers when they get their produce.
4. Do you use organic/sustainable methods on your farm?
I do! We use cover crops, minimal tillage, have pollinator habitats and much more to not only grow great produce, but regenerate the soil's health as we do it.
5. How many employees/volunteers do you have?
None… yet. Right now, it is just me, my wife and mother, but hoping to get a part time employee soon.
6. What has been the most difficult or stressful part about farming?
When something crazy happens like the hail storm this year that knocked us out for around a month. Weather is the biggest thing.
7. What local resources or individuals have you used when starting up or sustaining your business?
Friends, mostly, to spread the word about what we do. Other than that, not a whole lot. There are not a ton of resources available to the small farmer locally, but a great place to start is the local feed stores such as Locklair’s Farm Supply in Gaston or Sal’s Ol’ Timey Feed and Seed in Blythewood.
8. Did you start your business on a shoe string and buy things as you needed them or did you go to a bank or SBA to get a loan?
I started with nothing but the soil and seeds. I have built up from there and have zero debts as a farm and I am really proud of that. Pay as you go is the way to go!
9. What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to start an agribusiness?
Listen to your customers, plant twice as much as you think you’ll need and don’t do anything with a middle man. Direct sales are the way to go.
10. What is your favorite thing to grow?
That changes as my obsessions change, right now it’s head lettuce, but I really do love all of it.
11. How can someone make a purchase from your business or join your CSA?
Find us on Facebook/Instagram at Organically Roland, or visit our pickup CSA website at hrhcsa.com
12. How has COVID impacted your business?
Majorly as far as restaurant sales go, but that is picking back up now and thankfully to our home delivery program, our business is thriving despite Covid.
13. Anything you would like to add?
Plant a garden and save the world!!
Note: In our final blog about market gardens, we will talk with Larry Schneeberger of Toms Creek Family Farms.