New agritourism farm planned at old brickyard
As it becomes harder to turn a profit on agriculture in Horry County and across the nation, many farms are looking to cash in on the scenic beauty of the countryside through agritourism.
Scott Thompson of Conway has been a pioneer in agritourism. He ran the Thompson Farms in Bucksport for 12 years, but now he is looking to move his operation closer to Conway with a new home on Highway 701.
“People don’t see these things often, so I just want to get them out here, show them the brickyard, teach them the history and allow them to enjoy themselves,” he said.
Last year it was announced Thompson would be moving the Thompson Farm and Nursery from its old site. He began looking for a new farm and decided to move his business to Brickyard Place.
The 156-acre location is on an old farm where bricks were made and sold from the Waccamaw River access in the rear of the property. The property has access to the Waccamaw River, and the farm historically used to ship bricks up and down the river.
Thompson is a native of Conway and wants to see the local history preserved. He said education is a primary motive in making this new farm.
“It’s tourism for children in the months of October, November. We just want to teach them about the history of the farm and use our revenue to preserve the historical buildings on the property,” Thompson said.
In his new location, Thompson hopes to make everything bigger and more fun for the people visiting him. The farm will allow for a variety of event uses while still being an active farming site. Thompson hopes to host wedding events, parties, boat tours, walking paths, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, hay wagon rides, farm-to-table event, petting zoo, food trucks and camping.
While some of the offerings will cater to adults, a majority will be aimed at education local school kids on field trips.
“The kids come in and we will have a play area that rivals all play areas, like they’ve never seen,” Thompson said. “But we also teach them a class, a 20-to-30 minute class on standards. We have a certified former school teacher out here.”
Due to damage, from time and floodwater, some of the old buildings will not be safe for the public to enter and will be blocked off with signs. Thompson has been in conversations with the fire department and code enforcement offices. There site has old barns, a stable and a smokehouse.
“The preservation of these old buildings is very high on my priority list,” Thompson said. “I don’t want to see any of these things go. The money that this generates will go back into these buildings.”
There will be camping on site be for tents and people who don’t mind not having the electric and utility hook ups of many of the local campgrounds might have for RVs. Thompson said they want to make sure they’re hospitable to guests, but also to property owners near them.
“We’re very neighbor friendly,” he said, adding there would be rules placed to keep people quiet during the night.
The Board of Architectural Review made an agreement to allow camping, but Thompson has to come back in two years for review to see if it is not bothering the neighbors. The board stipulated all events will be completed and the quiet time will begin at 10 p.m. each night.
In addition, agritourism only allows the site to be used 121 days per year, but they do not need to be used all at once or consecutively.
“The most unique thing about this property is we have river access for the Historic Waccamaw River,” Thompson said. “This is enabling people to camp, kayak and then go home. I hope to see this filled full”
The Agritourism Permit allows farms to engage in commercial, money making activities in the farm without meeting all of the requirements other commercial properties might have to. The aim is to give farmers additional revenue streams to keep their operations profitable.
To keep the permit, the farm has to produce over $1,000 in revenue from stuff grown on site. Thompson said there will hay and corn produced on the farm, a lot of which will be used as feed for the animals.
Thompson expects most of his traffic to come in the fall months. He hopes to be up and running by the coming fall.
“It’s such a unique place,” he said. “I want all the kids to come out and enjoy themselves. We will keep adding things annually, different games and try to meet different age groups, to make sure we appeal to everybody.”
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