Taking Stock

October 2010
Written By: 
Stephanie Jo Chapa

Outreach Farm provides essential protein to needy diners

In the fields west of Georgetown lies a cattle farm that exists strictly to provide quality protein to local nonprofit organizations—the only operation of its kind in the country. The brainchild of South Carolina transplant Michael LoVullo, a former mission volunteer in Vermont who recognized a lack of quality protein sources for those in need, Outreach Farm, founded in 2004, is now an independent nonprofit supervised by a volunteer board of directors, encompasses 155 acres, and supports 130 cows. This agricultural endeavor is run by one employee and more than sixty community volunteers who donate lumber, tractors, and more than 10,000 hours of work each year.

The beef? The finest. The packages read “grass-fed and no hormones,” and will provide 42,000 meals this year to the Myrtle Beach Community Kitchen, Street Reach Christian Homeless Shelter, Friendship Place in Georgetown, Waccamaw Youth Center, and more. The farm is a lean operation run by an efficient staff with clear purpose. “It’s about feeding the people,” says Stephen Lowe, president of its board. Outreach Farm fills a critical need in South Carolina where, according to a USDA survey, more than six percent of the residents (higher than the 3.8% national average) have “very low food security,” meaning they are unable to maintain a normal eating pattern—often eliminating an expensive portion of their diet: protein.

“These cows eat something green all year round,” says Myron Legette, the farm’s single paid employee and a fourth-generation resident of the Hemingway property. Each day he tackles obstacles—be it moving more than 100 cows across a two-lane highway, transporting hay, or administering shots. When Myron calls for help, it appears in the form of volunteer traffic stoppers, builders, or equipment donation. The farm breeds its own cows, employs its own tagging system, and administers its own medicine. Steers are grown to 1,000 pounds before processing and eventual storage in Pawleys Island.

Although the operation has grown, community labor and financial support has remained constant. Volunteers built the corral from donated lumber, the barn, and the well. A local farmer donated 400 bales of hay (at $40 per bale, you can imagine the effect). “It amazes me . . . every time you think you’re going to run out of money, someone steps up,” says Lowe. Outreach Farm is always accepting volunteers, donations, and nonprofit-agency applications.

Outreach Farm wants to expand operations and volunteer support in both Horry and Williamsburg counties to provide 50,000 meals next year. The operation is well known to Georgetown residents, but most of the product goes to Horry County kitchens. The goal is to become self-sufficient through the sale of farm-grown hay to local farmers and later acquire more land and improve productivity. With a bill of $30,000 per year on fertilizer alone, fundraising is the most valuable activity for this focused organization. So how can you get involved? The upcoming Run “’Til the Cows Come Home” 5K in November raises the most money each year. When Lowe became involved after he was “asked to run a race,” little did he know how far that race would bring him and Outreach Farm.

Hoof It
Run “’Til the Cows Come Home” 5K
November 13, 9 a.m.
A scenic tour through Pawleys Island’s oaks,
also featuring children’s races.
(843) 235-6967, www.outreachfarm.org