Sal’s Ol’ Timey Feed and Seed probably needs a bigger sign, although locating the store isn’t difficult. Take I-20 E to Highway 321, travel north on Highway 321 to Sharpe Road. Turn right until you see the sign, then turn left onto Hilltop Road. The mules can point the way. Problem is Sal’s offers so many services, it’s impossible to get them all on the current sign.
It’s easy to get caught by surprise at Sal’s. You end up spending way too much time wandering around the place, discovering not only things you didn’t know they had but things you didn’t know anyone had anymore—definitely a good thing.
Sal’s no longer carries feed. That stuff is heavy, and Sal, like most of us, is getting older and heavy things are getting heavier. They do have seeds, weighed up like in the “Good Old Days” and delivered with a smile, after a discussion to make sure the customer gets what they need. Sal’s also sells plants raised from those same seeds in money saving four packs.
The store has impulse buys like honey and jars of LauraLee’s homemade jams and pickles. Sal’s offers seminars on every aspect of gardening, one on one counseling, canning classes, and insider information on things you don’t find at Big Box gardening stores. Sal’s even conducts tours of the grounds.
The store features organic fertilizer and pest control for those wanting to rid the planet of chemicals. Sal’s offers pick your own produce service, online shopping, and counseling, materials, and guidance for those just starting out. You can see, up close and personal, goats, mules, a 33 year old horse named Sonney, and scads of assorted birds, chickens, and white doves. You can pet the goats, take pictures of the mules, and admire the horse. They also sell eggs.
If you have an upcoming special occasion, you can rent the white doves. They are released at a dramatic moment during your special event without worry. White doves don’t damage the environment like balloons, and no one has to try to catch them. They know the way home. Sal’s even has a YouTube channel.
Sal Sharpe was making and selling signs in 2007 when she purchased George’s Feed and Seed on Winnsboro Road. She absorbed a lot of the knowledge Mr. George had accumulated over the years and developed relationships with the dozens of area farmers who did business with him and continued doing business with her.
Wanting to teach people how to grow crops and not having available acreage at the store’s location at Winnsboro Road and Campground Road, Sal began making plans to move. Considering her family owned adequate land less than three miles from her current location, the decision was easy.
After four years at Hilltop Drive, the move appears to be a smashing success. Inquiring visitors can admire gigantic squash plants inside one of the two greenhouse structures on the grounds: Tomato, pepper, and other vegetable plants grow all over, along with one monstrous potato mound.
There are rows of plastic containers turning weeds from the various garden plots into Weed Tea, a nutrient rich substitute for store-bought fertilizer. While Sal’s abundant offering of plants isn’t certified as organic, there are no chemicals involved in anything being grown here.
With over 200 backyard farmers within a ten mile radius, Sal’s is quickly becoming the center of a farming community in this area. “An oasis,” is how Sal Sharpe refers to her budding business enterprise.
The land she inhabits as well as works, has been in her family for seven generations. When the name of the road you live on matches your last name, there’s a sense of pride and longevity that doesn’t feel the same as for those who move more frequently.
Maybe the most striking quote to me was, “The land knows what it wants to do.” All the folks involved at Sal’s Ol’ Timey Feed and Seed are committed to a natural process that uses the land for maximum gain but respects and takes care of that same land and the creatures that inhabit it.
When being counseled about how to install greenhouses, Sal was told the land was too steep and must be graded down level instead of the five degree existing slope. She declined. There’s an intricate watering system called the Modified Wicking Tub that looks like something from Inca technology. Using the waste from the existing animals creates a lot of material that is quickly and simply turned into compost. She also wants to make sure everyone she contacts understands how easy and fulfilling growing things can be and how much we all need to start respecting the land once again. “I want to save this land for generations to come,” Sal tells visitors. It’s obvious she means it. For more information on Sal’s, visit www.salslocalseed.com or www.youtube.com/@salsoltimeyfeedseed2322.
Sal’s will be participating in the AG+ ART Tour June 10-11. For more information on the upcoming AG+ART Tour, visit www.agandarttour.com/richland.