Focus: Seasonal Produce
Location: Beaufort County, SC
Social Media: facebook.com/oakateeriverbrandproduce
For years, Ben and LaDonna Sanders owned and operated a row crop farm in Florence County, SC. Ben has always been involved in agriculture as he is the 5th of the 6 generations of farmers who have once worked the land that sits in Beaufort County (the 6th being Ben and LaDonna’s children). LaDonna got the farming bug after marrying Ben 15 years ago.
After years of successful row cropping, Mother Nature started to truly take it’s toll on the Sanders causing them a few years of almost completely failed harvests. The 1000 year flood, partnered with Hurricane Matthew, pushed them in the direction to change course. Also, Ben’s father suffers from Cerebral Palsy and has seen a decline in recent years and needed family closer by to him as he still resides at the farm in Beaufort County. So the Sanders made a switch and a move. They uprooted and replanted right here in Beaufort County where they now operate a successful conventional seasonal vegetable operation.
The Sanders are a longtime Beaufort County farming family, with their 50 acre plantation sitting picturesquely along the Okatie River since the 1800s. If you walk along the back of their property, the remnants of old cattle barns stand amongst some of the greenest grass you’ll ever see, after years of grazing cattle left their marks. Towering oaks host lines cut in their trunks by years of barbed wire and fencing pushing into the trees as the landscaped evolved and changed. And although so much has changed over the years, one thing has remained, the roots, that Ben and LaDonna recently decided to returned to. Old machinery has been replaced, barns have been repaired and new ones built and once again the land is being cultivated.
If you drive up to the farm, you’ll see signs for fresh produce available from their stand. But you can also find the children of Ben and LaDonna working just as hard, alongside of their parents. Matthew, age 13, Noah, age 16, Adam, age 19 and Zach, age 25 help on the farm and the youngest of them often accompany LaDonna to the Farmers Market along with Ben and LaDonna’s 7 year old niece, Ella who visits often from their old home town in Florence County, SC.
During the warm months of spring and summer you can find tomatoes, okra, peppers, corn, eggplant and all of the summer staples. Early spring of 2020 you will find their first crop of strawberries from their farm along with hopefully farm fresh eggs. Winter will bring lots of greens and beautiful root vegetables.
Learn more about their farm and purchase their products by visiting them weekly on Tuesdays from 9am to 1pm at the Hilton Head Island Farmers Market hosted by the Coastal Discovery Museum.