By: Shelby Lever
Photos By: Tori Steyne
Faith. Family. Farm. These are three virtues that my family has always maintained and prioritized throughout the generations. Lever Farms started out as just a small family garden. In 2004, my parents, Todd and Lynnette Lever, decided to take the extra produce harvested from the garden to the local Newberry County Farmers Market. My mom always tells the story of taking me (one year old at the time) and my brother, Will (five years old at the time), to the market with her. She would put me in a playpen right next to her while they sold to the community. She always laughs and says that if anyone would speak to me, I would run to her. Now, after many years, the farm has expanded greatly. Lever Farms is a South Carolina century farm. The land we farm on has been in our family since 1897.
What started out as a side hobby has turned into a full-time job for not only my parents, but the whole family. Four generations of Lever's currently tend the land, including the youngest member, my nephew, River. Even at just over 7 months old, he already has a role at the farm. We've learned the ways of farming by watching and following my parents. If you know my mom, she loves the Lord, to talk to people, and smile! She and my dad's goal is to ensure the farm is strong enough to support three families while still blessing the community. Our greatest joy is producing food for our neighbors, locally. Instead if a strawberry traveling thousands of miles from across the country to get to your table, we are just down the street.
What brought my parents to start growing strawberries you may ask? Well, it was my mom. When I was one, my mom and dad went to visit a strawberry farm in Beaufort, South Carolina. While they were there, my mom felt the Lord calling them to grow strawberries. The first crop of berries was planted when I was three and when I was four, in 2007, they harvested their first ever patch of strawberries. I can't begin to remember a time not growing up on strawberry farm, and I surely wouldn't change it. Over the years, we have added a fall pumpkin patch, farm field trips, pork products, and a successful CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) Program. We are incredibly proud of the opportunities that have been afforded to us by the community's support and our family's hard work.
Not only does hard work go into the farm, but so do lots and lots of prayers. There have been so many prayers prayed in and over our fields throughout the years. From worries about the weather to health to a bountiful harvest, my parents pray for the plants to grow and prosper. Mom says, "This field doesn't belong to us. It belongs to the Lord; we are just His workers." Our family believes that if we put the crops in the Lord's hands, no breast cancer, pandemic, nor 100-year flood can destroy their prosperity.
Strawberry season was a little different in 2019. Demand for local produce increased tremendously. People wanted to buy produce locally more rather than have to go to the grocery store. People were out of work and looking for something fun to do with their families. During that time, though every business felt strain of the pandemic, we are proud to have served our community and helped in whatever ways possible. We are so very excited to be back to a somewhat new normal this season! We anticipate to open our strawberry season by mid-April and pick up to Father's Day.
My family is incredibly grateful for all of the support we have received from our community, and we appreciate your trust in our farm. We look forward to serving you in the future and continuing to grow our business that has been built by faith and family!