South Carolinian named Southeastern Farmer of the Year 2021
Moultrie, GA—Robert “Bob” Martin Hall has been selected as the 2021 Swisher Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year.
Nestled in the hilly Piedmont region of York, South Carolina is Bush-N-Vine Farm, a fruit and vegetable-growing enterprise owned and operated by Robert “Bob” Martin Hall. His career began forty-one years ago on land that’s been in his family for a century and a half.
Hall said, “My early love of gardening came from having spent much of my childhood helping my grandfather with his peach orchard and helping my father survey land. A couple of my uncles, one of whom ran a truck farm with peaches and tomatoes, were also great mentors.”
After graduating from high school in 1976, Hall enrolled at Clemson University to study horticulture and obtained his B.S. degree in 1980. Meanwhile two cousins, who were sisters, decided to commit the future of their father’s farm to agriculture. Hall’s desire to grow crops and directly market fresh fruits and vegetables was the fortunate link to their wish, one that allowed him to begin farming the family land again.
He remembered, “We started Bush-N-Vine Farm then with seventy-five acres and converted the old 1930s peach packing shed into our retail market stand in York which, over the years, has served us well.”
From the 1960s on, after the initial shipping business faded away, the Hall family shifted focus to roadside market sales. Living within an hour’s drive of Charlotte, NC, what had been an exclusively agricultural community for most of the twentieth century gradually became a suburban one. In its unique setting, Bush-N-Vine Farm has developed into an agricultural oasis. It’s also become a destination point for visitors to enjoy a day in beautiful rural surroundings and sample the farm’s tasty bounty.
Bush-N-Vine Farm’s land under cultivation has doubled since the early 1980s and now supports three direct marketing fruit stands: the large main one in York is open year round, and the ones in Rock Hill and Lake Wylie are seasonal. Produce is grown in three ways: in open fields, high tunnels, and greenhouses. On the fruit production side, strawberries have been the farm’s core crop with 10 irrigated acres yielding 17,500 lbs./acre, 15 irrigated acres of peaches yielding 320–400 bushels/acre, 8 acres of cantaloupe and melons yielding 18,000 lbs./acre, 3 acres of blackberries yielding 9,000–10,000 lbs./acre, 3 acres of blueberries yielding 8,000 lbs./acre.
Hall has been a member of the York County Farm Bureau for forty years, a board member of the South Carolina Farm Bureau since 2010, and currently serves on its Labor Committee. He’s a member of Certified South Carolina Grown, South Carolina Agri-Tourism Association, and South Carolina Specialty Crop Association. He’s also FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) certified.