Family-friendly farmer, Bryan Bagwell, started selling produce at Bagwell Farms on Jonesville Road in the spring of 2016. Members of his family have been farmers for generations and his ancestors were first settlers in Greenville County! Hundreds of cars stop by his farm every week for summer selections of juicy tomatoes, watermelons, cantaloupe, cucumbers, squash and flowers. In the fall, customers travel from all over for succulent collards, scuppernong grapes and sweet potatoes (sometimes offered). Every year, they plant 10,000 collards and sell out! A combination of Bagwell’s technical farming skills and warm service bring bountiful crops to satisfied locals.
Bryan and his mother, Margaret Bagwell, have traced their ancestors back to the first settlers in the Mauldin area! The legacy started with Benjamin Griffith who emigrated from Wales in the 1700’s. On Bryan’s mother’s side of the family, they were descendents of the Griffith lineage. Benjamin’s tombstone resides in Mauldin and is the oldest grave in town! Bryan’s uncle’s owned farmland on Woodruff Road and Bryan’s grandmother was also a farmer. She owned over 90 acres of property on Woodruff Road (where the Stonehaven neighborhood sits today). Bryan’s grandchildren are the 10th generation living in the area. While Bryan’s mother’s side liked to farm, his father’s side were great gardeners. Bryan’s father grew tomatoes, which allowed him to develop farming skills. He worked out logistics with water and fertilizers in his father’s garden until he bought property on Jonesville Road. Bryan worked at Michelin for 35 years. His position was a manufacturing specialist, but he worked his way up. Eventually, he became responsible for the knowledge of over 100 employees. He traveled the world, started a school and taught engineers. At the time, farming was his hobby. Then, it grew into a full-time job after retirement! He studied agricultural details and recommendations from Clemson University and North Carolina State. Then, he recorded everything he did to the plants in an excel spreadsheet. It included the amount of water used, food given, fertilizer, spray programs and how the plants reacted. Customer reactions also influenced his methods, “I’m really quite technical,” he says. Bryan explains, “Folks trust me with their families, to take care of them.”
The peaceful farm has beautiful butterflies floating around colorful zinnias and summer sunflowers create a cheerful atmosphere. Both are available for purchase to form a seasonal rustic bouquet of handpicked flowers. Four retirees assist Bryan with produce sales and pruning. He also employs a hand-capped individual who picks all his tomatoes on a golf cart. The operation generates a great sense of joy for everyone involved. Church ministries also work with him to provide healthy foods to less fortunate families. He explains, “The people side has been so interesting to me and satisfying. You get to know them and their families.” That’s why he tries every day to perfect the process, “We focus on quality and figure out what people like. We make sure it’s the best they can get.” There are two seasons for the farm including mid-June to mid-August for fresh vegetables and fruits, and mid-October to January 1st for collards. Afterwards, Bryan trades in his garden gloves for fishing rods. During winter, he casts a line into Lake Hartwell, Lake Murray, the ocean and Lake Greenwood!
Sink your teeth into explosive flavors by visiting Bagwell Farms this fall or next summer. Visit their location at 605 Jonesville Rd, Simpsonville, SC 29681 in mid-October or call 864-979-8722 for more information. To stay updated on the latest produce, follow them on Facebook. Posts help spread the word about his passion to harvest nature’s nourishment.
All Bryan hopes to do is feed the community with the fruits of his labor. ♦