Ep 103. Sam McLemore on Turning a Hobby into a Bountiful Farm Business

Have you ever considered turning your vegetable growing hobby into a full-time career?

Today we are joined by Sam McLemore of Bountiful Harvest Farms in Starkville, Mississippi. Bountiful Harvest Farms was started by Sam and his wife, Isabel, in the Spring of 2011. What started as a desire to grow vegetables for their family turned into a new career for Sam and an adventure to grow vegetables for the Starkville area. After working in the landscape business for a while, Sam decided that he wanted to grow food full-time instead of just as a hobby and Bountiful Harvest Farms was born. Tune in today to hear all about the challenges, differences, and advantages of building and maintaining a thriving farm in the deep south!

In This Episode:

What Bountiful Harvest Farms grows 1:10

The challenges Sam faces running a farm in the deep south 3:13

The main types of pests in Mississippi 4:11

How Sam regulates nitrogen in pea crops to tame the vines 8:06

What types of soil Sam contends with down south 8:43

What varieties of sweet potatoes Sam grows 11:07 

Why Sam switched to more mechanical methods for cultivation 13:08

Why you should invest in new machinery 18:10

How Sam keeps nutrients in the soil on his farm 20:47

What a typical week looks like on Bountiful Harvest Farms 24:09

The hardest part of running a farm for Sam 28:42

About Sam’s mentors throughout his farming journey 30:51

What Sam would’ve done sooner given the opportunity to go back in time 39:33

About the team at Bountiful Harvest Farms 42:21

How Sam goes about selling their vegetables 46:43

Keys to growing good hot peppers 49:53

The biggest mistakes Sam sees new farmers making 52:27

Sam’s favorite farming tool 55:56

How Sam feels about starting a farm now 58:58

Where you can find out more about Sam and Bountiful Harvest Farms 1.05:51

About the Guest

Bountiful Harvest Farms was started by Sam and Isabel McLemore in the Spring of 2011 in Starkville, Mississippi. What started when a desire to grow vegetables for our family turned into a new career for Sam and an adventure to grow vegetables for the Starkville area.

Sam and Isabel are both Mississippi natives from Port Gibson and Oxford, respectively. Sam’s grandfathers both grew food in gardens at home. Isabel grew up having a family Summer garden most years and learned to compost at an early age. They both had the makings of farming in their future but did not realize it!

Sam and Isabel met, fell in love, and graduated from Mississippi State University and have called Starkville home since.

When Sam graduated from college he took 6 months to hike the Appalachian Trail. After working in the landscape business for a while he decided that he wanted to grow food full-time instead of just as a hobby and Bountiful Harvest Farms was born!

In the first year, BHF had two neighborhood garden locations and continued to grow. In 2013 the farm needed more space and the operation was moved to one larger piece of property in Starkville. At the end of 2015 the farm moved again to the current location on Pat Station Road where it could be at a more permanent location.

Resources and mentions

Website – https://www.bountifulharvestfarms.com/

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi-Xh3T9rFdlSvt3WqXQTLw

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/bountifulharvest.farm.5

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/mclemoresam/

And if you want to keep the conversation going, join us in our Facebook Group to connect with us and other farmers looking to grow their business!

We also have six free eguides to help you be more effective on your farm (Winter Growing, Pastured Poultry, Washing Shed Efficiency, Profitable Farmers Toolkit, what to look for in a farm property, etc), which you can download here.