Ag + Art takes off in Fairfield

Jacob Rambo, 3, at the wheel of the pint-sized John Deere tractor, and sidekick Samuel Pope, 2, showed off their farming expertise during Ag + Art weekend. The boys were on site at Triple J Farm on Cammack Road where Samuel’s dad, Jason Pope, showed tourists around the farm. Artist Julie Rambo exhibited and sold her painted, recycled metal art work at the farm, and tourists purchased free-range eggs and homemade chocolate chip cookies.

When Terry Vickers, President of the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, took the initiative to include Fairfield County in the fledgling Ag + Art multi-county event in the summer of 2014, Fairfield was one of the only participating counties no longer identified as an agricultural county.

But Vickers didn’t let that stand in her way. Her goal was to find and recruit the working farms in Fairfield County and encourage them to participate along with a handful of artisans to present on the farms during the weekend tour.

“I knew we had a lot of great working farms in the county. We just had to identify them and show them how being a part of Ag + Art could benefit them,” Vickers said. “And it’s grown every year.”

Not only is the annual county event growing, but it’s showing signs of bringing revenue and favorable attention as well.

Ben Bowles, with Clemson Extension and one of the originators of the event in York County seven years ago, was so impressed with Fairfield County’s event this year that he and a representative of the state’s Department of Agriculture are planning a return trip to research Fairfield County’s success and has hinted that the county’s program might become a prototype for helping other counties across the state turn their own grass roots efforts into successful Ag + Art events.

“I think our secret is to coordinate our county’s whole farm/artisan operations with a single focus,” Vickers said. “That would include our Saturday farmer’s market which is another way to bring revenue and success to our farmers and artisans. And they’re seeing that and beginning to work year round toward that end.”

One of those farmers, Brad Hoffman of Gypsy Wind Farm, has stepped into the role of co-chair with Vickers.

“With more of the farmers and artisans actively on the event, we are seeing much more success,” Vickers said.