COLUMBIA — A new farm incubator program at the Clemson University Sandhill Research and Education Center in Columbia will open small plots for startup farmers to begin growing their businesses.
The program is accepting applicants to grow fruits, vegetables and specialty crops on half-acre irrigated plots under the tutelage of Clemson Extension farming and agribusiness experts. The program expects to accept five or six aspiring entrepreneurs in its inaugural season, said Extension agent Harry Crissy, who is overseeing the program.
The deadline to apply for the incubator is Dec. 14. Contact Crissy at firstname.lastname@example.org for an application packet.
Selected participants will receive instruction in business planning and food safety, as well as farming advice from Extension experts and an on-site farm manager. They’ll also have access to farming equipment, and a commercial kitchen to package fresh foods for market is in the conceptual phase, Crissy said.
Clemson has planted cover crops to prepare eight acres at the Sandhill research center for the incubator program. Cover crops are planted in the off seasons to enrich soils with nutrients.
Participants will use the sites for three years. At that point, Clemson will help them identify land for purchase or lease to continue their businesses, Crissy said.
Any South Carolina resident is eligible. Applicants must provide a business concept or plan. A committee will select participants. Planting will begin in the spring, Crissy said.
The Columbia incubator is among several programs created to improve profitability for startup agribusinesses. Clemson University Public Service Activities and the Cooperative Extension Service have increased their agribusiness services recently with the addition of entrepreneurship programs and the hiring of more agricultural economists.
This story provided by Clemson University.