Horry County farms are ‘thinking outside the box’ to recover from economic downturn

Grand Strand

CONWAY, S.C. (WBTW) — The South Carolina Department of Agriculture Agritourism Marketing Specialist points out: if a farm relied heavily on school field trips in the spring, things were hard economically, and may still be.

Thompson Farm in Conway is working to bounce back after losing all of their income from the spring to now.

“This year, for planning purposes, it was very unique, just like everything else in 2020,” said Christina Burzler, managing partner for Thompson Farm & Nursery, LLC. “The farm income was gone. We didn’t know what was ahead for fall. Obviously, the bulk of our business and revenue comes in the fall.”

They canceled their annual Easter egg hunt, baby animal festival and school field trips due to the pandemic.

“With everything happening, we weren’t sure what was going to happen,” Burzler said.

They’re using fall events and activities, like selling pumpkins, to build that income back up. Burzler says they’ve sold more pumpkins this year than ever before.

Like other farms, they kicked off their season early, meaning they’ll be open eight weekends this fall instead of four.

Some farms, though, depending on the crop they produce, fared well economically.

“Other farms, such as U-Pick strawberry, blackberry, blueberries, they had bumper crops. First, we had perfect weather in the spring. If you remember, although we all had to work from home, it was really nice out. Great growing conditions,” said South Carolina Department of Agriculture Agritourism Marketing Specialist Jackie Moore.

Those bumper crops allowed the u-pick farms to have a good year.

As another source of revenue, Thompson Farm has sold out almost every weekend on their drive-in movie series.

“They’re thinking outside the box,” said Moore.

She says other farms are even holding virtual tours for those who can’t make it.

“When COVID is all behind us, it’s another way for people to be able to experience the farm if they can’t get out there,” Moore said.

For now, Thompson Farm’s hay ride and petting zoo is operating at 50% or less capacity, and Burzler says you can easily social distance at their corn maze or play area if you visit.

You can visit Thompson Farm’s website for more information on what events they’re holding this fall.

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