S.C. growers look to 21st century agriculture

By Tom Lollis

MuscadinesSouth Carolina farmers looking to the future have formed a new cooperative called the Carolina Agri-Solutions Growers Association (CASGA). 

Clemson Extension agent Jody Martin, coordinator of the S.C. Muscadine Initiative, has been deeply involved in CASGA’s formation. The muscadine initiative includes a one-acre demonstration vineyard at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center near Florence. 

The new association hopes to capitalize on growing interest in health issues with products such as nutraceuticals from muscadines and other crops already grown in South Carolina. Muscadines contain high amounts of phytochemicals such as resveratrol, which helps prevent stroke and heart disease.

“CASCA brings together purchasing and marketing efforts for botanical crops,” said Greg Hyman, the association’s first president. “The new mentality is geared toward identifying the consumer before you start the product and building a profit margin into the process instead of just growing a crop and hoping somebody buys it.”

Other board members include vice president Bob Childers of Woodruff, treasurer Jim Irvin of Wadmalaw Island and Johnny Shelley of Nichols.

For information: Jody Martin, 843-661-4800, jamrtn@clemson.edu