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Southeast Regional Conservationist Visits South Carolina

tillman_cook

Tillman (left) visits with Ronnie Cook, owner of Spring
Steel Farms, is a cattle producer working with NRCS.

James E. Tillman, Southeast Regional Conservationist, visited South Carolina on June 25-27, 2019. During this short visit, Mr. Tillman toured several farms that work with NRCS in South Carolina, as well as various partners. On behalf of NRCS Chief, Matt Lohr, Mr. Tillman hopes to gain insight from the state level, on ways the agency can improve.

The round of tours began on Wednesday, June 26, with a meet and greet with Axiom Farms, whom NRCS has an outreach cooperative agreement.  The meeting took place at the farm's vegan restaurant, Rare Variety Café, in Columbia, SC.  The tour then moved to Aiken, SC, to visit with Aiken Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Chair, Yvonne Kling, as well as Spring Steel Farms.  Owner of Spring Steel Farms, Ronnie Cook, worked with NRCS to install irrigation, cover crops and pasture practices.

On Thursday, June 27, Mr. Tillman traveled to Charleston, SC to visit the Center for Heirs Property Preservation (the Center), another partner of SC NRCS since 2012.  The Center and NRCS have worked closely in the Lowcountry area to inform underserved landowners of Farm Bill programs, while helping them to surpass eligibility issues due to heirs property. Over the years, the partnership has garnered much success. 

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Yvonne Knight-Carter (front, right), is an EQIP and CSP
participant, managing forestland in Moncks Corner, SC.

Ms. Yvonne Knight-Carter, a landowner in Moncks Corner, SC, successfully worked with the Center and is a participant of the EQIP and CSP programs.  Mr. Tillman also visited her home, where she gave a tour of her forestland, which had been heirs property.  With help from the Center and NRCS, Ms. Knight-Carter has learned to manage her land for conservation, as well as economic prosperity.

The tour ended with a round table discussion with Berkeley SWCD Chair, Diane Edwins and Vice-Chair, Barry Jurs, who informed Mr. Tillman of the great working relationship with NRCS and ideas for the future collaboration.