FARM AND BLUFFTON SELF HELP COOK UP DELICIOUS PARTNERSHIP
Less than two years after opening, FARM Bluffton has established itself as a hub for progressive, sophisticated yet straightforward food. The fresh herbs and much of the produce come directly from the restaurant’s nearby garden at Williamson Lowcountry Farms — there’s no 18-wheeler pulling up to deliver jet-lagged veggies from another hemisphere. “In season only” is FARM’s mantra; that means no strawberries in December, but there will be loquats in May.
“Sometimes it’s the basics that bring you the most satisfaction,” says chef Brandon Carter.
Also satisfying: Seeing Carter and his team in action thanks to FARM’s open kitchen — and making new friends at the restaurant’s community table. The staff has mastered the art of welcoming diners into this sanctuary off May River Road in Old Town Bluffton, encouraging them to live in the moment and bask in the experience. It’s a mantra that FARM takes seriously; the restaurant also has donated part of its sales to Bluffton Self Help, a nearby nonprofit organization that serves the community by offering a food pantry, clothing and emergency financial assistance, and Beaufort County’s first education and resource center.
“My wife and I had triplets in 2011, and started donating many outgrown clothes to them. When FARM was starting to come to fruition, I met with Lili Coleman, Self Help’s former executive director, about three years ago when we were just breaking ground,” said FARM founder and farmer Ryan Williamson. “We partnered with them to do some fundraising prior to opening, along with donating a portion of our sales directly to them while we did a pop-up barbecue event. We then began connecting them with a few local farmers to supply them with fresh product, along with their pantry items.”
Williamson said he’s happy to be able to give back to the community that has helped support him and his new venture.
“Originally, Lili and I agreed to do .5 percent of our total sales, but as we opened up the doors, we decided to go up to 1 percent,” he said. “We struggled with a long build-out process, but after the doors opened the community picked FARM up. They have continued supporting us, which means donations are up, further impacting the Bluffton community.”
Kimberly Hall, Self Help’s executive director, is grateful for the restaurant’s generosity.
“Ryan and his family have supported Self Help before FARM was even created. Throughout the years, they have made consistent financial donations as well as fresh food donations for folks that visit our wellness pantry,” she said. “Beyond just financial support, the FARM team consistently gives back by donating their time and often comes to us with ideas. As an organization that is committed to providing fresh, healthy food options to neighbors in need, FARM has the same health-minded mission with their farm-to-table food options. They consistently go above and beyond providing dinners and support for families expecting no recognition in return. They truly embody what it means to be part of a community, neighbors helping neighbors.”
But FARM isn’t just giving; it’s getting something from Self Help, too. Hall said that companies that support their communities and area nonprofit groups often have better employee morale, a more engaged workforce, and co-branding opportunities.
“Ryan, Josh and Brandon are always so giving and very community-minded. Bluffton Self Help is lucky to have them as partners, and the Bluffton community is lucky to have such a great restaurant,” she said. “When you dine at FARM you are supporting our Bluffton families in need.”
PHOTO From left to right: Josh Heaton, past BSH director Lili Coleman, Susan Villemure, current BSH director Kim Hall, chef Brandon Carter, FARM founder Ryan Williamson, Julie Jones, Gwen Chambers, Heidi Calvin and Thaddeus Miller.