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Congaree and Penn Farm and Mills

Tuesday, September 25 at 10 am

By Patty Tomka 

Rice paddies in Jacksonville??? Yep. 30 minutes from downtown Jacksonville you will find four acres of rice paddies on Old Kings Road - along with orchards of new Mayhaw trees, fields of Muscadine grape vines, honeybees busy pollinating everything and ‘Fancy Chickens’ strutting!

Scott Meyer is coming to our Home and Garden Club meeting to tell us about this new addition to the Farm to Table movement, how they got started, why they chose that name, and how he went from planning to be a ‘fish farmer’ to running a very successful Destination Farm. He was going to use the water from the fish to fertilize the rice plants and turn that into the Japanese drink, Sake. He planted the rice first before buying the fish, but the local restaurants bought up all the rice as soon as it was harvested and wanted more! Sake would have to wait! And so they expanded the farm and planted olive trees, blackberry bushes and grapes, with the thought of building a ‘Cidery’ to juice seasonal fruits into Ciders and Shrubs.

“But Meyer is already looking far ahead, positioning the farm to be a crucial link in Jacksonville’s growing local food and drink scene, where Congaree and Penn can be marketed to an increasingly sophisticated audience.

Congaree and Penn has already had some attention: In September it was featured in Food & Wine magazine, which highlighted the rice fields at what it called a “boutique operation here on the exurban fringe of one of the fastest-growing cities in the country.” From Matt Soergel’s article 11/17/17

They have 210 acres along Old Kings Rd to work with and have lots of ideas for the future. But they are pretty busy already with opening the site to Weddings, Farm Dinners featuring famous chefs, Fish Fries, Tours and Workshops. When Scott comes to our meeting he will be bringing product from the farm that we can purchase – rice, grits, middlins, jellies and ‘shrubs’ to make cocktails. Mmmm. I can’t wait to try them all!

Come to our meeting on September 25 and then plan to stay for lunch at the Club and get to know your neighbors. You don’t need a green thumb to be part of this group!