The rise of agritourism: Horry County sees increase in agritourism permits

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – Horry County Planning and Zoning gave out eight agritourism permits to those wanting to use rural areas to make money this year – an increase from the three they gave out last year.

Melissa Nobles is the co-owner of the new wedding venue, The Blessed Barn in Aynor. She says she can’t believe she and her husband will see nearly 30 weddings this fall alone.

“I mean, we are like blown away,” she said.

Melissa Nobles says the original plans for the building were to have one barn, but the specifications of the permit made them need to build a second barn.

Between this year and last, Horry County handed out 11 agritourism permits to people like the Nobles who want to use their rural land for a bigger purpose.

“We thought wow, what a cool way to keep our land agriculture, because we farm cattle and hay, but yet to be able to use our property for something else,” said Nobles.

With the permit, the Nobles had to follow a lot of the same rules a commercially-zoned area would also follow, including making everything handicap accessible.

“We had never dreamed of opening a wedding venue, we have no experience, so it was kind of crazy, but we are just so thankful and happy that we took that leap of faith and opened The Blessed Barn,” she said.

The land surrounding the barn, several pieces of furniture inside and some decor are all family heirlooms.

Nobles says she hopes the county will continue to keep farmland for better use, and that its benefits will trickle down.

“With so many young people growing up nowadays that don’t know anything about farms, I think it’s so good for kids to be able to come and young people to be able to come and to see farmland and to see cattle and to see hay,” she said.

They’ve already had four weddings, and plan to have another 31 through wedding season in the fall.

Nobles says if you want to book, they’re always taking new clients, as long as you have a date set.

Their first wedding at the venue was their daughter’s, and Saturday will be their son’s wedding. Their son’s wedding will be the fifth wedding they’ve had since getting their permit.

“Believe it or not, we’ve had two already come, book their date, and they’re not engaged yet,” she said.

Horry County Planning and Zoning senior planner Lou Conklin says the county is working to rewrite the ordinance that requires people to get the agritourism permit.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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