Co-op offers up local crops in Aiken and North Augusta

Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner
David Hodges is the manager of Wilson's Produce.
Staff Photo by Stephanie Turner David Hodges is the manager of Wilson's Produce.

Hot or cold, it doesn't matter; plants still grow. And, as long as there are plants sprouting, Wilson's Produce is open.

The stand has two locations – one in Aiken and one in North Augusta.

The Aiken location is the permanent one, according to manager David Hodges. Both are operated by the co-op My Aiken Veggies.

My Aiken Veggies was started by local farmer Willis Wilson.

Hodges has been employed by Wilson for two months and has been a customer of his for more than six months.

All items Wilson and Hodges provide are organic, which means that no hormones, pesticides, antibiotics or unnatural fertilizers are used, according to Hodges.

Most are locally made; some come from farms in Florida.

One site surrounds the Aiken site.

“We gather what's on our property first,” Hodges said.

Produce grown on the 8-acre farm include mustard greens, artichokes, collard greens, garlic and onions.

What isn't made on the farm is gathered. Such items include coffee from New Moon and milk from Hickory Hill.

Cage-free eggs, homemade cheese and butter, chemical-free meat and fresh honey are also sold.

The honey is harvested by beehives located on the Aiken farm.

“We work all daylight hours,” Hodges said.

Customers will also be able to find firewood, trees and flowers at the locations. Pecan trees and azaleas are among the plants; the firewood comes from fallen trees.

Products are sold in baskets or separately.

Those interested can join the co-op. Members receive discounts on bulk purchases.

The Aiken farm is Certified Naturally Grown, a recognition from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hodges is a certified permaculture designer.

“It's a type of landscaping centered around sustainable practices, edible landscaping … so it's not far from farming or gardening,” he said.

The manager taught himself how to garden.

“I've always loved to grow stuff,” he said.

Hodges is not the only one in his family to have this interest; his children, ages 2 to 14, will often come by to help Wilson and him.

His sister, Elizabeth Socha, also believes in the naturally-grown method.

She is the owner of Plan It Foods.

“Plan It Foods is a family-owned and operated local food service business in Aiken, that proudly uses homegrown and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. We use all natural compost and sunshine to grow our fruits and vegetables and never use any fertilizers or pesticides in our gardens,” according to its website.

Its meals are sold at Wilson's Produce. Wilson's Produce at 2780 Columbia Highway in Aiken is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The one by North Augusta Church of Christ, 600 W. Martintown Road in North Augusta, runs Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information and prices, call 803-507-7588 or visit www.myaikenveggies.com.

Stephanie Turner graduated from Valdosta State University in 2012. She then signed on with the Aiken Standard, where she is now the arts and entertainment reporter.

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