Farming is in Urbie West’s Blood

By Wendy Pollitzer

Featured in The Island News

December 2, 2010

Ashby and Urbie West

It’s not often you meet a fifth generation Beaufortonian, much less a fifth generation Beaufortonian farmer like Urbie West.  West is the founder and manager of Rest Park Produce Farm and sells his vegetables at a newly constructed stand built by his cousin, Chip McLeod in the Beaufort Plaza Shopping Center.

West’s Great-Great Grandfather started W.H. McLeod & Son in Seabrook with his son, Claude E. McLeod. West’s Grandfather, William H. McLeod and his brother, Claude E. McLeod, continued the farming operation in Seabrook until 1984, when the last vegetable crop was planted.

Today, West operates a 370-acre farm in Earhardt, SC initially intended to serve recreational needs like hunting and fishing.  But when West’s Stepfather, Doug Cappelmann passed away, he told his mom, Hope McLeod Cappelmann, “Momma, I’m ready to get back into the dirt. I want to start farming.”

And that’s what he’s done. With the help from his sons, Ashby and Drew and with the blessing from his wife, Andrea, West has successfully planted and harvested numerous vegetable crops. He’s got turnips, collards, mustard greens and kale in addition to Bibb lettuce, Bok Choy, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, acorn and spaghetti squash and cabbage.

West uses no herbicides and very few pesticides and fungicides. He and his sons pull weeds manually; and, within three years, West will have a certified organic farm.  And West only sells what he grows at his stand; so he knows it’s good!

All of West’s crops sold at the stand are picked fresh daily. They are open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1pm until dusk. West also participates in the Port Royal Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.

Rest Park Produce Farm also supports and enrolls members in CSA, Community Supported Agriculture.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer, like West. Rest Park Produce Farm offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

This arrangement creates several rewards for both the farmer and the consumer.  Farmers get to spend time marketing the food early in the year, before their 16-hour days in the field begin. They also receive payment early in the season, which helps with the farm’s cash flow. And, farmers like West have an opportunity to get to know the people who eat the food they grow.

Consumers get to eat ultra-fresh food, with all the flavor and vitamin benefits and are exposed to new vegetables and new ways of cooking.  They usually get to visit the farm at least once a season, which allows them to develop a relationship with the farmer who grows their food and learn more about how food is grown.

CSA’s are definitely a win-win for the farmer and consumer. For more information  about the CSA at Rest Park Produce Farm, contact Urbie at  (843) 592-3535 or email him at info@restparkfarm.com.

For Urbie West, farming is in his blood. West’s mother, Hope McLeod Cappelmann, grew up on the farm in Seabrook during the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. And Urbie spent many hours after school helping his grandfather, Hardee McLeod and his brother, Claude picking, packing and loading vegetables to be shipped to markets up North.

And West’s mother still helps out the business, accompanying Urbie many days at the stand. It’s definitely a family affair. West was quite proud of his roots as well as his branches as he graciously spoke of his mother, Hope, his sons, Ashby and Drew, and his lovely wife, Andrea.

Urbie West hopes to continue his family’s legacy in the farming business. Do yourself a favor and visit Urbie at Beaufort Plaza, where the Shoney’s used to be. You’ll enjoy meeting him, and you’ll definitely love his produce!

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About Wendy

Wendy Pollitzer is a versatile writer living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

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