Hall Family Farm, which recently announced it would be moving to Lancaster County, has changed its plan.
After unexpected turns in business, and talk of a new town forming in South Carolina, Hall Family Farm’s operators have decided to keep farming their 37 acres off Providence Road West in Ballantyne for at least two more strawberry seasons.
“We’ll just keeping (farming) here until it’s time to leave,” said Kevin Hall, whose extended family has owned the property for generations.
The future of Hall Family Farm has been up in the air for several years, as a majority of family members who share ownership of the property have decided to sell it to developers. A long-standing deal recently fell through, but with the property’s high value and desirable location, family members expect it to sell quickly.
Kevin Hall and his wife, Lara, who farm the property and open it to the public for strawberry picking in the spring and pumpkin picking in the fall, have been looking for nearby acreage where they could move the farm.
They nearly bought property in Marvin that was “about perfect” for their needs, but then they learned that town regulations would make “agri-tourism,” as their farm business is called, extremely difficult.
“So we had to head out,” Hall said. They focused on looking for land that was not in an incorporated town, where rules are more farming friendly.
They found themselves combing the market for the same kind of flat property that developers look for, and after a long search they bought 160 acres in Lancaster County outright. The land is about 20 minutes south of their farm in Ballantyne.
A few months ago, Hall got wind of a movement in Indian Land to incorporate almost 60 square miles in that area into a town. According to the group’s website, they are now collecting the required signatures for the state of South Carolina to consider allowing them to incorporate Indian Land.
“Indian Land is ready to control its own destiny,” the website’s cover page states. “Our community's rapid growth has created a vital need for positive management.”
The Halls’ property would fall into the new Indian Land town, and they feared regulations that would hinder their new farm, Hall said. He joined leaders in the large Van Wyck community, which includes about 2,000 residents in the panhandle of Lancaster County, in speaking out against the proposed incorporation.
In a counter move, Van Wyck residents have collected the required signatures and submitted their own petition for incorporation to the state, Hall said.
The new Hall farm wouldn’t be included in that incorporation, and Hall has not announced that he’d be interested in being annexed into such a town.
“I would prefer to stay in the county unless the threat of being pulled into an Indian Land city materializes,” he said.
If Indian Land does incorporate and include his farm, Hall said he’s not sure whether he and his wife will continue farming. Developing the property, which is now covered with scrubby growth, could cost more than $1 million, he said.
He’s open to the option of selling the 160 acres to a developer in that scenario.
Meanwhile, Hall has planted strawberries in Ballantyne and expects an early crop thanks to the frequent rains last fall. The farm should open for strawberry picking around April 15.
Hall said he regularly fields questions from customers who want to know how long the farm will stay in Ballantyne.
“I tell them what’s happening and emphasize that it out of our hands,” he said.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.