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FarmHER: Medical University of South Carolina’s Urban Farm

Farming comes in all shapes and sizes. From big to little and everything in between the definition is WHAT.

On a recent trip to South Carolina, I landed myself in a very unique small urban farm. Sitting on about an acre in a converted parking lot on the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) campus I found a little slice of heaven, right in the heart of the city; Carmen Ketron and the MUSC Urban Farm. From the minute I walked in the gates of the urban and was greeted by Carmen’s wide smile and upbeat attitude, I knew it was going to be a fun day.

Carmen shared that she spent time working on a rural farm out of college but craved more interaction with people and that led her into Charleston and the farm on the campus of the MUSC. The farm is a unique program that is open to the hospital staff, students and patients as well as the entire Charleston community.

As Carmen walked me around the farm showing me the unique ways she utilizes the one-acre space I was amazed. It was clear that Carmen was passionate about the plants she grows and the community around her. From the tomato plants that were co-planted with Zenias to attract pollinators to the thoughtful design, meant to teach those people using the farm how they could grow their own food in a small space at home, it was a very unique FarmHer experience.

As we worked our way around the farm, it became clear that Carmen is part of a larger team that brings this very important project to life each and every day. To run this farm, it takes teamwork that extends beyond the employees to the students at the learning school, patients at the hospital and other staff and community members.

From the group that was painting rain barrels with a Charleston city scene to the woman on her break, picking some flowers. Or the kids who ran into the garden on a whim and stopped long enough to water a few plants and learn about tomatoes from another volunteer, this farm is not just a farm but a community. I often say FarmHer’s love the land and care for the community, and they are doing that in spades at the MUSC urban farm, all to the tune of Carmen’s cheer disposition and clear love for growing food and spreading good.

Wrapping up my hot but productive visit at the farm, I sat down with Carmen to talk a little more. I always ask the FarmHers I visit what advice they have for others, and specifically the next generation of FarmHers. While Carmen could be considered that next generation herself, I absolutely loved her answer, “Read books and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.”

Carmen took her love of plants and turned it into a career that she loves. She is always looking to learn more and apply that to the farm, and is clearly, getting her hands dirty. Next time you are in Charleston, take the time to stroll through the MUSC urban farm, which is open all of the time to visitors. Pull a few weeds, water a plant or stop and join in on a workshop, I promise, you’ll be so happy you did!

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