Cag Brunson of Oak III Farms walked alongside straight rows of a recently planted field in Turbeville, South Carolina inspecting the young corn plants that were emerging from the black ground.
The dark dirt, which makes the sprouts impossible to miss, is unlike the sandy soils more common to the area. Brunson, who farms with his brother-in-law, nephew, and son, leases what’s known as a “Carolina bay” farm from Farmland Partners (FPI).
Carolina bays are elliptical depressions found along the coastal plains of the Atlantic – many of which have become farms characterized by the rich, organic matter that filled in the depressions over time.
Theories abound about how they were created, including meteor showers, ancient ocean currents, and wind patterns. But there is no debating the farm’s prized fertility or importance to the Brunson family’s diverse operation.
“We grow anywhere from green beans, peas, sweet potatoes, collards, turnips, fresh market, asparagus,” he explained. “On the row crop side, we grow wheat, corn and soybeans.”
Oak III Farms cultivates corn and soybeans on the more than 2,000-acre Carolina bay farm and vegetables on sandier, lighter ground.
“In the past, I’ve worked with [other] investment groups, leasing property, and it’s totally different,” Brunson said. “With Farmland Partners, you feel more like they’re your partner in the farming business.”
The grain storage facility that FPI makes available on the farm is a prime example of that partnership. And according to Brunson, investing in the farm’s productivity benefits all parties involved.
“We always try to improve land,” he concluded. “It’s kind of like anything we do, we want to always leave it better the next year than we than we got it.”
It’s kind of like anything we do, we want to always leave it better the next year than we than we got it.