FORT MILL — As what remains of the township’s farmland continues to be rapidly developed into new subdivisions, one local educator and her students hope to preserve a link to the area’s rural past.
Lee Petitgout, agricultural education instructor and FFA adviser at Nation Ford High School, is a farmer herself. Her 63-acre farm in Lowrys produces more than food, however. There, Petitgout says, she grows a measure of inner peace and a connection with the world around her.
“My definition of a farm is, it’s a place of serenity, earned by hard work, with its keeper’s desire to be a good steward of the land and the wealth of sustenance produced, in order to fulfill his duty of providing for his fellow man.”
To highlight and honor local farmers, Peitgout and her students hosted a Farm to Fork dinner at St. John’s United Methodist Church May 13. The dinner featured meat and produce from York County area farms, including Tega Hills and Springs Farm in Fort Mill, The Pennel Barn in York, Thames Farm in Fort Lawn and Watson Farms in Lowrys. Chef Greg Collier of The Yolk Cafe in Rock Hill prepared a feast for nearly 100 people, starting with a salad that included local strawberries and lettuce.
The menu featured beef Bolognese, pork chops, kale pasta, roasted vegetables and for dessert, warm pound cake with browned buttercream, strawberries and balsamic syrup.
All fresh (to say “fresh and local” would be redundant).
In addition to highlighting local farmers and the quality of their products, the dinner was a fundraiser for the Nation Ford FFA. Most of the students who participate in FFA plan to go on to careers in agriculture.
“It’s not only our way of thanking and recognizing those farmers who provide fresh items for our nourishment, but hopes to bring awareness of the importance of the farmers’ role in our everyday life,” parent volunteer ReJeanna Haiderer said prior to the dinner.
Petitgout was grateful for the turnout last week. The dinner’s proceeds will be used to help FFA students from families with limited means attend annual trips.
“Every year we do a major ag-study tour so the students can see an aspect of agriculture they haven’t seen before,” she said. “They get to learn more about different things that effect the food supply.”
One recent trip was to the North American Livestock Expo in Louisville, Ky. Other trips have taken the students to Georgia as well as across the Carolinas.
At the dinner, it was announced that Petitgout’s daughter Courtney received the National FFA CSX Scholarship, the largest scholarship given to an S.C. FFA member, as well as the Master Gardeners of York County Lannie Love Education Scholarship. Courtney Petitgout will pursue a degree in Agriculture Communications/Marketing at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Ga.
Michael Harrison • 803-547-2353