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      Farm Eye: Collards smell like money to farmers

      Tyler Ryan learns about collard production in South Carolina from Chris Rawl.

      LEXINGTON (WACH)????It smells like the color of money in Lexington County,?? Clemson Extention??s Powell Smith says with a laugh about the rather pungent smell of collards.

      Collards, of course, a staple of southern cooking, especially around the holidays. Traditionalists believe that eating collards, along with black eyed peas, is the key to success in the next year, increasing your chances of coming into cash.

      For many collard farmers, the cash certainly comes with each year??s crops. Smith says that the Palmetto State is second in the nation for collard production, with farms in every county producing the greens.

      The Clayton Rawl Farm in Lexington is certainly a testament to collards translating into cash. Founded in 1948, the family farm originally focused on leafy greens and onions, produced for local farmers markets. Fast forward a little over half a century, and the Clayton Rawl Farm is still in the leafy green business, having expanded to over 2,200 acres of farming land, it??s own trucking line and over 175 employees, making it one of the largest suppliers in the southeast.

      Chris Rawl, President of the Clayton Rawl farms, says that they harvest about 450 acres of collards annually, hand pulling every field. He explains that the collard process, once out of the ground, is to be given a water bath, packed in ice, and stored until heading out one of the ten trucks that make daily runs to grocery stores throughout the east coast.

      During the Holidays, collard production is nearly 24 hours a day to keep up with the demand by those who believe that collards on New Year??s Eve may, in fact, unlock success in the next year.

      Each acre, according to Smith, represents between $4,500 and $7,500 in farm value. The assessment is important to understand the total impact that farming has on South Carolina. He says that when you add in purchasing supplies, equipment and labor, there is a major footprint created for the comminutes that surround such farms as the Rawl??s.

      Collards, unlike many leafy green products, can be grown virtually year round in South Carolina, as they can withstand much colder temperatures. They also have a unique profile when it comes to health. ??There are more nutrients per pound than any other food on the planet,?? Smith says about collards. Collards have a positive impact on the body??s ability to detox, the antioxidant system, and the anti-inflammatory system. Webstite WH Foods says that the combination of these three properties combined can help prevent many types of cancer.

      Farm City of Lexington County??s Loni Rikard believes that creating awareness about the benefits of collards, and many other farm fresh products, are imperative when understanding the connection between the farms and consumers. Nationally, Farm City programs work toward the goal of awareness about the mission and the interdependence between the two. She also believes it is important that people understand that fresh produce and products don??t just ??appear?? at a store, as one person thought. ??We work 24 hours a day, Christmas Day, New Years Day, whatever day,?? she says of farmers who work the land. She says that some people don??t think about the infrastructure and process that goes into ensuring that the grocery store is stocked with fresh food and products.

      Whether or not eating collards as you ring in the new year actually holds an esoteric value to your pending success in business, for farmers in South Carolina, there isn??t much luck to it?|just hard work.

      Farm Eye for the City Guy was created by Tyler Ryan from WACH-TV , partnering with The South Carolina Department of Agriculture to create awareness of the mission of farmers, changing the stereotypes that exist, and highlight the hard working men and women who work everyday to bring farm fresh products to market.