The Market Garden Blog 3 of 3 – "Interview with Interview with Larry Schneeberger of Toms Creek Farms”
- Christopher Barstow
- Wednesday, February 09, 2022
The Market Garden Blog 3 of 3 “Interview with Larry Schneeberger of Toms Creek Farms.”
Toms Creek Farms is a large Market Garden that participates in various farmers’ markets in SC and is a member of a large CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) called Market Wagon. They are also the first commercial olive grove in SC since the late 1800’s.
1. Describe yourself/your business and your personal journey into managing/owning an agribusiness?
Since I was 10 years old, I worked on my sister and brother in law’s dairy farm and my first cousin’s dairy farm in upstate New York. I lived there until I was 18. It has been a dream of my Father in law to own a farm that grows olives and produce. When we had the funds to support that dream, the extended family moved to Hopkins SC.
2. What sets your business apart from other small farms?
Our 220-acre farm has the first olive trees grown in SC in 80 years.
3. What is your favorite part about farming?
Watching my kids and family grow up in the farm life and putting fresh and healthy farm produce into people’s hands.
4. Do you use organic/sustainable methods on your farm?
We use organic methods with no pesticides on our farm. In addition, we use chicken manure instead of chemical fertilizer.
5. How many employees/volunteers do you have?
Our farm is family run, but we do hire seasonal and part time help. We also have some veterans who volunteer.
6. What has been the most difficult or stressful part about farming?
Finding dependable workers and getting financial assistance from banks and other organizations.
7. What local resources or individuals have you used when starting up or sustaining your business?
- USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) helped us map out a produce plan and got us registered as a USDA farm.
- NCRS (National Resources Conservation Service) assisted us in setting up irrigation and drainage plans as well as creating a master plan for the whole farm.
- Clemson Extension provided detailed information about olive trees and their soil requirements.
- The South Carolina Department of Agriculture has certified our produce as “Certified SC Grown” and has provided us with produce safety compliance training.
8. Did you start your business on a shoe string and buy things and you needed them or did you go to a bank or SBA to get a loan?
Our extended family pooled our resources and financed the startup.
9. What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to start an agribusiness?
Line up help and make sure you are financially secure.
10.What is your favorite thing to grow?
Heirloom vegetables that people don’t know about. I love to see people’s reactions to new types of produce.
11. How can someone make a purchase from your business or join your CSA?
- Come see us at Toms Creek Farm, located at 141 Toms Creek Court Hopkins, SC 29061
- Visit us at Soda City, in downtown Columbia, SC.
- Call us at 803-447-3790
- Market Wagon (https://marketwagon.com/)
12. How has COVID impacted your business?
Farmers' markets shut down and people weren’t buying produce.
13. Anything you would like to add?
Soon we will be ramping up our aquaponics system and will be able to offer farm raised catfish and aquaponics grown romaine lettuce.