[Moultrie, GA]— Robert “Bob” Martin Hall has been selected as the 2021 Swisher Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year.
Nestled in the hilly Piedmont region of York, South Carolina is Bush-N-Vine Farm, a fruit and vegetable-growing enterprise owned and operated by Robert “Bob” Martin Hall. His career began forty-one years ago on land that’s been in his family for a century and a half.
Hall said, “My early love of gardening came from having spent much of my childhood helping my grandfather with his peach orchard and helping my father survey land. A couple of my uncles, one of whom ran a truck farm with peaches and tomatoes, were also great mentors.”
After graduating from high school in 1976, Hall enrolled at Clemson University to study horticulture and obtained his B.S. degree in 1980. Meanwhile two cousins, who were sisters, decided to commit the future of their family’s farm to agriculture. Hall’s desire to grow crops and directly market fresh fruits and vegetables was the fortunate link to his cousins’ wish, one that allowed him to begin farming the family land again.
Hall remembered, “We started Bush-N-Vine Farm with seventy-five acres and converted the old 1930s peach packing shed into our retail market stand in York which, over the years, has served us well.”
Bush-N-Vine is a collective family effort. Bob Hall has been married to Susan Templeton Hall for thirty-seven years, and they have five children—Sam, Benjamin, Elizabeth Martin, Ruth Anne Melchers, and Mary McKay—and thirteen grandchildren.
Bob Hall was nominated as South Carolina Farmer of the Year by Philip “Andy” Rollins, Upstate South Carolina Commercial Fruit & Vegetable Agent at Clemson University.
Andy observed, “I’ve worked with Bob on many research projects and have been most impressed with his innovative spirit, his eagerness to try new things. He’s always experimenting with different crops and growing times, pushing the limits where many others would give up. When faced with adversity, he just tries harder. Bob’s strong faith is also an inspiration to me personally, along with his willingness to generously share his vast, hard-earned knowledge with others in the agricultural community.”
The new Farmer of the Year was selected for the honor by three judges who visited his farm and the farms of the other state winners the week of August 16–20.
Head judge Cary Lightsey commented, “Bob Hall and Bush-N-Vine Farms represent exactly what the competition is all about. Bob Hall covered all the different judged categories with flying colors. He is a humble man when it comes to his many accomplishments, but he has great vision for the future of his family and business. He also goes out of his way to help his fellow farmers. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting all of the state winters. It was an extremely difficult decision to choose one, as all ten 2021 state winners are outstanding.”
This is the thirty-first year for the Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. It recognizes excellence in agricultural production and farm management, along with leadership in farm and community organizations. The award also honors family contributions in producing safe and abundant supplies of food, fiber, and shelter products.
Ron Carroll, Vice President Marketing Operations Fat Lip Brands with Swisher, praised Hall for his farming accomplishments. “Farming on land that has been in his family for over a century and a half, Bob Hall represents exactly what the American farmer is all about. He exemplifies the traditions, values, and determination associated with the many responsibilities of being a steward of the land. The characteristics of farmers include being innovators, risk takers, pioneers, environmentalist, problem solvers, as well as agricultural and industry leaders in their community, state, nationally, and internationally. Bob, Susan, Sam and their entire team check all of those boxes.”
As the Southeastern Farmer of the Year, Hall will receive a $15,000 cash award plus $2,500 as a state winner from Swisher. He will also receive the use of a Massey Ferguson tractor for a year from Massey Ferguson North America, a Columbia jacket from Ivey’s Outdoor and Farm Supply, a smoker-grill from Hays LTI, a Henry Golden Boy “American Farmer” Tribute Edition rifle from Reinke Irrigation and an additional $500 charitable donation from Syngenta.
To read the full story of Hall and Bush-N-Vine Farm, read the Sunbelt Expo’s full press release here or watch the video below.
Since its inception in 1990, the Swisher / Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award has evolved into the most prestigious honor in the southeast and nation with 265 outstanding agribusiness leaders being honored for their “excellence in agriculture.”
Ten states participate in the program: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. In the previous 30 years of the award, Swisher has awarded over $1,204,000 to the state and overall winners. Each state winner receives $2,500 in cash and an expense-paid trip to the Sunbelt Ag Expo from Swisher. The overall Southeastern winner receives an additional $15,000 from Swisher each year.
The other state winners this year include: Thomas Ellis of Fort Deposit, AL; Jamie Anderson of Lonoke, AR; Raymond R. “Rick” Roth, Jr. of Belle Glade, FL; Lee Nunn of Madison, GA; Stephen J. Kelley of Bardwell, KY; Joe Edmondson of Vardaman, MS; James L. “Cookie” Lamb of Clinton, NC; Jay Yeargin of Greenfield, TN; and Charles Edwin “CJ” Isbell of Rockville, VA.
Learn more about the Swisher Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award and each of the state winners here.