ACRE awards $150,000 in grants to 9 agribusiness entrepreneurs | Leaf Probably

South Carolina Department of Agriculture
Hugh E. Weathers, Commissioner

Media contact: Eva Moore, 803-734-2196,


ACRE awards $150,000 in grants to 9 agribusiness entrepreneurs

COLUMBIA — The South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship (ACRE) has awarded nine entrepreneurs a $150,000 share for their innovative agribusinesses.

“ACRE is doing a phenomenal job of helping local agribusinesses grow their businesses through funding and industry links,” said Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers. “I look forward to seeing how the success of these entrepreneurs impacts South Carolina’s farming industry.”

Fourteen finalists presented their business plans to a three-person panel of judges, who selected nine winners based on their business plans, a five-minute video pitch, and their capital needs. This year’s panel of honorees represents diverse business ventures from seven counties in South Carolina:

  1. Earthmen farms in Beaufort County is owned by sister and brother duo Najmah and Glen Thomas, whose recently developed EPFarmacy product line includes a collection of herbs and herbal products in the tradition of their African and Gullah/Geechee heritage.
  2. Harleston Towles is the owner of root farms, The Twenty Bag and his latest venture Sandy Point Citrus. Using an innovative technique, Towles plans to grow specialty citrus fruits in Charleston County, including Meyer lemons, ruby ​​red grapefruits and Satsuma tangerines.
  3. Whippoorwill Farms SC is a biodiverse, regenerative farm in Jasper County. Marissa Paykos owns and operates this 40-acre farm and agritourism destination that uses organic methods to raise pork, chickens, eggs and vegetables.
  4. On a 142-acre farm in Charleston County Lightning Rock Country & Cattle, a veteran-owned, women-owned, family-run, and Heroes-certified farm. Wife-husband team Corrine and Trey Wright are focused on land regeneration, carbon sequestration and raising traditional breed cattle in an environmentally responsible manner.
  5. Rebecca Farms in Florence County grows quality oyster and shiitake mushrooms at an affordable price. Since 2010, Jay and Rose Lewis have been working to build a vertically integrated farm, meaning everything is produced in-house.
  6. Located in Dorchester County Rita’s Roots Garden Harvest, owned and operated by Rita Bachmann. What began in 2011 as an organic gardening advisory service has grown into a full-service operation, expanded to include a nursery department supplying high-quality, seasonally appropriate vegetable, cut and pollinating flowers and herbs.
  7. Festival & Flora is a woman-owned commercial cut flower farm operating on Wadmalaw Island and a new brick-and-mortar design studio in Charleston. Harnessing the talents of owner and lead designer Laura Mewbourn, Feast & Flora is the only flower farm in the Lowcountry offering full-service design and the only flower farm in South Carolina with a physical store.
  8. Located on a 7 acre farm in Pickens County Wandering Pink Farm. Owned and directed by Brittany Arsiniega, Rambling Rosa grows a variety of vegetables using organic methods, rescues livestock, and shares a love of plants and animals with the community through product sales, educational classes, and community events.
  9. The Coffee Lady31, is a family, minority, and women-owned business that began operations in a kitchen-cum-living room in Spartanburg County. Cecelia Miller’s business today consists of a mobile coffee truck offering freshly roasted coffee and espresso, as well as a pharmacy and herbal farm.

This year’s winners include the largest number of sustainable agricultural companies that have received funding at the same time. Of the selected awardees, five had previously participated in ACRE’s Agribusiness Planning Curriculum program for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“We are pleased to see that agribusinesses that previously participated in our curriculum program can now receive more funding resources through the advanced program,” said Kyle Player, executive director of ACRE.

SCDA formed ACRE in 2018 to identify and nurture new ideas and businesses in Palmetto State’s agricultural sector.

For more information, visit or contact Kyle Player at 803-734-2324 or


ACRE awards $150,000 in grants to 9 agribusiness entrepreneurs [pdf]


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