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Front yard gives way to opportunity for new Laurens farmer

MARKET FARMER — Hastings Corner owner and operator Mady Hastings of Laurens prepares to cut sprigs from some of her potted peppermint plants, some of which will soon be sent to Rootimentary Restaurant for cocktails and other creations. Photos by Judith Brown.

Laurens, South Carolina – It was the need for a bit more space to house their growing family which drew Mady and Matt Hastings to Laurens, but then a determination to try something new has resulted in Hasting’s Corner, a market farm run solely by Mady and which now serves as one of the vegetable providers for Laurens’ newest restaurant, Rootimentary.

Before moving to Laurens from Simpsonville in October 2020, Hastings was working as a pediatric registered nurse and had begun to tell coworkers that she was considering starting a little garden when she moved to the larger South Harper Street property.

And that’s when the naysayers began.

“They said it’s not that easy, and you don’t know how much work it will be,” Hastings said. “So I started reading and watching videos and learning what to do.”

It’s true her background had not at all prepared her.

“For the most part we’ve had suburban lives,” Hastings said, referring to her childhood near Philadelphia and her husband’s youth in South Florida and Greensboro, N.C. Even in Simpsonville her yard was too small for a garden – or so she assumed.

“Now I know I had plenty of space but I didn’t know it then. You don’t have to have a ton of space,” she said, referring to gardeners in Brooklyn and Queens in the New York City area who are making a name for themselves via social media as successful urban gardeners.

She’s also creating a following on Instagram and Tik Tok, using her own platforms to show others considering a garden just to give it a try.

“So many people helped me so I use it to encourage others who might want to try gardening,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of failures but there’s been a lot of successes too.”

In her own garden she’s discovered that the part shade provided by an ancient magnolia in her side garden protects tender salad greens from the heat, so she’s able to harvest those well into the summer. The varieties of kale and other hardy greens, tiny purple carrots and purple peas are currently thriving in the bright sun.

She encourages her growing children to play outside while she’s in the garden.

With the added space of her new front yard beds, Hastings has now got a total of 15,000 square feet to plant. She’s been growing seeds for wildflowers in addition to poblano peppers and many other new vegetables, and she’s building the soil with her own compost tea while using only organic fertilizers.

“I triple rinse everything I send them and they do another wash there. Pretty much everything in the garden is going to him,” she said of Rootimentary owner Caleb Satterfield. “What’s left I sell at the farmers market, give to neighbors and to the Laurens County Foodshare with the South Carolina Empowerment and they add it to their food boxes.”

Within the short time since she moved in the fall of 2020, Hastings Corner has been recognized as a certified farm site by the United States Department of Agriculture, and she’s participating through DSS in the Senior Voucher Program.

“Our goal is to increase access of good food for more people,” Hastings said. “Gardeners normally plant more than they need and now I’ll have space for even more.”

This story originally ran page 2B in the Wednesday, March 29 issue of The Laurens County Advertiser. Home and Garden and the Great Outdoors – a special supplement.

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