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Welcome to fruit growing in the South!

December 24, 2009

Southern Fruit Fellowship Annual Meeting in South Carolina 2014!

The 2014 Southern Fruit Fellowship Annual Meeting will be held in Florence, South Carolina, in the vicinity of McKenzie Farms, South Carolina’s premier (and one of the fartherest north on the East Coast) citrus farm. Stan McKenzie and South Carolina Extension Service Agent Tony Melton will be our hosts. Proposed attractions are: tours of commercial kiwi, peach, and citrus operations; a visit to Moore Farms Botanical Garden; and presentations from a wild fruit expert and an entomologist. Please join us! (Bring fruit).

The meeting will occur August 21st – 24th, 2014. Our central meeting spot will be the Pee Dee Research and Education Center (PDREC) in Florence. Our designated motel is the Holiday Inn Express in Florence, with America’s Best Value Inn as an alternate. There’s an RV park and campground just down the road.

The registration fee will be $25 per adult. Children of attendees, well, we might let them sneak in for free. Anyone interested in fruit-growing is welcomed to join with us; we’ll try to sign you up as a SFF member, of course (membership is only $15 per year), and, yes, the editors will try to solicit articles from you, but membership is not required, only an interest in learning about our mutual hobby. You’ll find some of the South’s top experts on fruit-growing at this meeting; it’s a good place to ask questions or find a mentor.

Below is the proposed agenda:

Thursday, August 21st

Thursday afternoon, River Run Farms, a kiwi operation, will be open for us to tour. It’s off Interstate 95, about an hour and a half south of Florence. Since it’s so far from our venue, we’ve decided to make this an optional tour, before the Meeting actually starts; those on the way to the Meeting from south of Florence may want to allow time to see this operation – anyone ever seen a commercial kiwi farm before?

We’ll congregate at the Pee Dee Research and Education Center from 5:00 – 7:00 PM. Registration fees will be collected there. You can also pay your dues, if you want. At 7:00 PM, we’ll go to Petro’s Iron Skillet Restaurant for our first meal together (price of meals is not included in the registration fee). If anyone brings any interesting wine, mead, or cider (no moonshine) to brag on, we might sample it later at the Holiday Inn Express.

Friday, August 22nd

8:00 AM:             Leave for Moore Farms Botanical Garden.

10:30 AM:             Leave Moore Farms and head to McKenzie Farms.

12:00 PM:             Lunch at famous Schoolhouse BBQ.

2:00 PM:             Lecture on native fruits at the PDREC.

3:00 PM:             Presentation from an entomologist.

4:00 PM:             Business meeting, general discussion.

Saturday, August 23rd

8:00 AM:             Leave for McLeod Farms, a commercial peach operation. They have a big packing shed, blackberries, row crops, and a museum with old cars, tractors, etc.

12:00 PM:             Lunch at Big’s Restaurant near McLeod Farms.

1:00 PM:             Leave McLeod Farms.

2:00 PM:             Indoor meetings at the PDREC.

4:00 PM:             Tour of McKenzie Farms.

7:00 PM:             Supper at the Compass Seafood Restaurant.

Sunday, August 24th

Go home, or hang around and talk a while longer. Myrtle Beach is 100 miles to the southeast; some of you may wish to visit there, lots of touristy things to do there. Eat some seafood.

Florence is a thriving little city which happens to be on the main interstate route to the Northeast, so it’s a big stopover for travelers. SFF has reserved a block of rooms at the Holiday Inn Express and we’ll get a slight group discount, but there are plenty of alternate motels nearby. We encourage you to make reservations as soon as possible, though, just to make sure. For those flying, Florence has an airport with connections to Charlotte and Atlanta.

The Pee Dee Research and Education Center will be our central gathering spot. They have some demonstration and experimental crops we can see, and it’ll provide us with a nice air-conditioned place to meet during the hot part of the day. They have an Outdoor Education Trail we may enjoy.



River Run Farms, 187 River Run Drive, Vance, SC 29163; Phone: (803) 492-9878. Commercial kiwi farm.

McLeod Farms, 29247 Highway 151, McBee, SC 29101; Phone: (843) 335-8611. Large commercial peach farm with 650 acres and 22 different varieties of peaches. Has been in the family since 1916, fourth generation peach growers. They have developed their own variety, Cary Mac.

McKenzie Farms and Nursery, 2115 Olanta Hwy., Scranton, SC 29591; Phone: (843) 389-4831; Vegetables and forty different varieties of cold-hardy citrus, eucalyptus, and palms.

Moore Farms Botanical Garden, 100 New Zion Road, Lake City, SC 29560; Phone: (843) 210-7582; Fifty acres of gardens that inform, inspire, and delight. By combining cutting edge horticultural practices and rural gardening traditions, they have reinterpreted what it means to be a Southern garden. Their mission is to promote research and education in horticulture, agriculture, and forestry for the benefit of the people of South Carolina and beyond.

Pee Dee Research and Education Center, 2200 Pocket Road, Florence, SC 29506; Phone: (843) 662-3526; Home to top-quality research in areas that are of particular importance to South Carolina residents. It is an integral part of Clemson University’s Public Service activities, including the Agricultural Research and Forestry system and the Cooperative Extension Service, with nine resident faculty and fifty support personnel.



Florence RV Park, 1115 E. Campground Rd., Florence, SC 29506; Phone: (843) 665-7007;

Holiday Inn Express, 2101 Florence Harllee Blvd., Hwy 327, Florence, SC 29506; Phone: (843) 629-9779; Angela J. Barrentine, General Manager.



There is a registration form on Page 23 of this newsletter. Please fill it out and send it with your payment (checks or money orders made payable to SFF) to Larry Stephenson, P.O. Box 84, Carrollton, MS 38917 as soon as possible. We’d like to get an idea how many will be coming, to better prepare.

If you care to volunteer to help run this meeting, contact Tony Melton, Florence County Extension Service, 2685 S. Irby St., Florence, SC 29505 or by e-mail at; or Stan McKenzie, 2115 Olantha Highway, Scranton, SC 29591,or by e-mail at; or Larry Stephenson, We’ll probably need a few helpers to get folks registered and pass out maps and directions and such.

If there is any SFF business anyone cares to discuss, or any questions, this is the place to bring it. If any member has a presentation or demonstration they would like to make, let us know, so we can schedule an appropriate time. We should have ample time at the PDREC for group discussions.

I think most of these growers experienced some damage from the severe cold we enjoyed last winter; for those of us in SFF, it’ll be interesting to see how they have pruned/repaired/replanted.

The Pee Dee Region is warmish in August; those of you from cooler climates had best pack their short britches.