Steedly educating small farmers | News | The Press and Standard

by | January 5, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: January 3, 2018 at 10:13 am

Scott Steedly’s vision for the seed money provided from the Feeding Innovation sought to play a role in growing one of the nation’s lagging crops: small farmers.
Steedly’s non-profit, International Center for Sustainability, Inc. would primarily focus on education of both local residents and tourists about the environment and sustainable farming, especially permaculture.
Permaculture, a mingling of the words permanent and agriculture, seeks to work within nature to provide food and other basic necessities of life without depleting natural resources.
Steedly has access to a 38 acre farm about three miles outside the Walterboro city limits.
He envisions it becoming home to Project AIR (Abundant Immersion Retreats).
Visitors to Project AIR would experience “direct immersion with eco-tourism and agri-tourism events.” A chance, Steedly offered, “to reconnect with nature.”
“It would provide education, action learning activities, to grow new farms, inspire entrepreneurship and eradicate food deserts through the integration of education, science, art, nature and community,” Steedly said.
Steedly suggested that the concept of Project AIR was a seed planted from his work within the local education system.
For the past three years, Steedly has been working with the special needs students at Colleton County High School.
He and the students took what he called a dead space at the high school and “converted it into a outdoor edible classroom.”
The students established a produce garden. “It is an action learning hands-on experience-soil building, planting and nurturing the seeds, harvesting the produce and developing micro businesses along the way.”
When the student’s crops are harvested, the produce is either cooked to give the students a taste of what they grew or given to the students to take home to their family.
In addition to the students getting a sense of accomplishment, their parents get a taste of locally grown produce and hopefully a desire to establish their own family gardens.
Steedly envisions the farm, centered around the concepts of permaculture, as a wildlife reserve, a base for eco-tourism and agri-tourism — an education, arts and events space.
He had sought the seed money from the program to help purchase three used, 40 foot freight containers that would then be converted to provide indoor classroom space for inclement weather, a greenhouse, a stage, a central learning center, housing for interns working with Project AIR and storage.
Because of the variety of programs conducted at the farm, Steedly explained, Project AIR would have multiple revenue sources.
Steedly, who comes from a farming family with a background in education, believes that Project AIR can play a role in attracting new farmers and drawing more families to establishing their own produce gardens.
“Get them excited, make it fun and they will do it themselves,” he offered.

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