Compost Blog

Coming Home to City Roots

FOUND IN: Community, Education, The Farm on August 19, 2012

Entrance sign to City Roots.

I met the McClam clan in Charleston a few weeks ago at a local L.I.M.E. event. They are the new generation of farmers responsible for starting City Roots in 2009. We think we have an idea what farming is all about. The McClam family is learning it as they go daily. Eric McClam, the Farm Manager, has had a heavy hand in their farm's development. Talking with him,was like talking to someone who you know has dirt under their fingernails even before you see them.  I had to invite myself for a farm visit and he obliged.

Cucumbers hang on vines in the blistering heat of a Columbia, SC summer afternoon.

The farm is not far from my first home. I could have walked there.  Located in the Rosewood section of Columbia, near the tiny airport, it sits on City of Columbia property, leased to this family. Their mission: to produce clean, healthy, sustainably grown products while enhancing and educating the community about the benefits of locally grown food, composting, vermicomposting and other environmentally friendly farming practices.  It gets to the heart of why I'm moving in this direction.


They make a living on 3 acres. You won't see Norman Rockwell or feel moved to paint the landscape we romanticize so often when thinking about today's farm experience. They have weeds. There are tomato plants screaming for the compost pile. Rows of healthy basil need to find a home. The opportunities Eric described are no different than we are all having as we try our hand at one of this world's oldest professions.


The tractor is plowing under a cover crop which adds needed organic matter back into the soil.

It felt good to talk about the challenges. It has been a little lonely making my way in this unfamiliar place. The reassurance comes at a good time. Eric is an educator, sharing what he knows with people like me. We never stop giving and taking in that respect. Eric is an open book. From favorite tools to post harvest techniques, the information is forthcoming. He does not understand how important this is to someone like me right now.

Microgreens are grown year round in greenhouses.

As I wandered around the farm alone, taking pictures and making notes, it occurred to me just how generous they are to share this place. A lady came in a day late from picking up her weekly farm share.  Eric does not miss a step as he greets her, forcing two bright yellow sunflowers in her hand as this week's beautiful gift.


I felt like I had been given one. Thanks Eric!