Written by Palmetto Bluff
Jun 08, 2022
At Palmetto Bluff, we put faith in good people, and we take pride in delighting everyone who explores this place. We believe the inspiration to create great places and great life experiences originates from the people on our team. Local Character introduces you to a member of the Palmetto Bluff team.
Sit down with Farm Manager Shane Rahn for two minutes, and one thing will become clear very quickly. This is someone who loves this land—and he will work tirelessly to ensure that anyone he meets can—and will—love it as well.
Shane’s history with the land of Palmetto Bluff runs deep; his father used to work for Union Camp Paper Company, and Shane thinks his first foray onto this land was when he was about six weeks old. He continued to spend many childhood days playing, hunting, and just exploring the land. When asked if he thinks he’s covered all 20,000 acres, he quickly responds, “oh yes.” After graduating from college, Shane returned, first working with the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy for five years and then, in Fall 2020, he became manager of the Palmetto Bluff Farm. Shane’s enthusiasm for this role is undeniable. It’s clear he respects the history of the land while he also has bold ideas for what can be done.
When it comes to the 15 acres of the Palmetto Bluff Farm, Shane prioritizes both function and beauty. When first starting as Farm manager, one of his top priorities was to rebuild the 3.5-acre pond. He says they “took it down to a puddle” and then rebuilt the slope and manicured the land, all to make it accessible—and beautiful. It’s now one of the deepest ponds on property and is home to a variety of species of fish. When reflecting on the pond project, he remembers “how much work we put into [it] and how much gratitude came out of it.” In addition to the pond, Shane meticulously cultivated the garden he inherited last fall, and he’s currently tilling more land to make a second garden that will be one-and-a-half times bigger than the first.
Shane’s love of the Farm is contagious. From residents to chefs to golf course pros, he’s cast a wide net for folks to be involved with the Farm. There’s a volunteer program on Wednesday and Friday mornings, where residents can come help in the garden. (He mentions how two residents text him on “off” days and ask if they can pop by and help.) He also collaborates with the chefs at Cole’s, Octagon, and Buffalo’s—asking them what they’d like him to plant or sending a quick text when he has an abundance of jalapeños to ask if anyone could use them that evening (quite literally, farm-to-table). He even has Golf Course Superintendent Chris Johnson weighing in on his grass-growing efforts for an ideal event space (for a Farm brunch or dinner, Music to Your Mouth, and, perhaps, Shane says, “even a wedding one day”).
This land welcomed Shane as a child—and he fell in love with it. As Farm manager, he’s intent on paying that forward. He brings his history, gratitude, and vision to work with him every day. And, as he says to his resident-volunteers, “if the gate’s open, come on in.”
What goes through your mind as you drive into Palmetto Bluff?
I often wonder how the Wilson family made that drive in so perfect and how the Union Camp Paper Company kept this place in such pristine condition. I think of all the old Model A Fords that bumped and squeaked their way into the property to go have a party at the Wilson mansion.
What about on your way home?
When driving out of this property, the biggest thing on my mind is dinner and playing fetch with my lab, Daisy—followed by the endless thoughts of the next day’s agenda at the Farm.
Top five songs on your playlist?
My all-time favorite country song is “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (George Jones), followed by “It Must Be Love” (Alan Jackson), “Check Yes or No” (George Strait), “Universal Sound” (Tyler Childers), and “23” (Chayce Beckham).
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Graduating from college. No family member of mine had gone to a four-year college before. It was such an amazing feeling to walk across that stage and hold that diploma. Many late nights of studying went into that degree, and now I get to put it to work every single day.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Respect—both to give and to earn.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
If I tell you, then everyone will know, but I hate onions with a passion.
What is the last book you read?
Even though I have read it several times, Shiloh was the latest book I read. It gets me every time.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be? And how would you use it in your job?
t would have to be flying! I walk so much daily and being able to fly around the Farm would help so much. Wouldn’t need new boots so often.
When you’re not at Palmetto Bluff, what are you doing?
I am usually working on something around my house, visiting my two nieces at my sister’s house, or taking Daisy, my lab, for a ride around town in the bed of my truck.
What words or phrases do you use the most?
I have always used the word fuzz when saying something needs to be a little bigger or smaller, tighter or looser. For example, “I need to cut that hole just a fuzz bigger” or “that bolt is just a fuzz too big.” I’ve come to realize that a few of our property owners find this hilarious.
What makes you laugh?
Right now, my biggest laugh comes from my almost-four-year-old niece, Sawyer, who tries to mock what we say in her funny little voice. (A recent favorite was her mimicking my dad, “them damn taters.”) It is priceless.
What is your favorite spot at the Bluff?
I have three spots here that are breathtaking and have only been seen by a handful of people. Two are found in the managed forest (which is managed by my dad)—the Smilax-Vine hill next to the swamp, followed by the lower ponds which overlook the New River and old rice paddocks. The third can be found off #8 road, on the edge of the big drain that parallels the road. There are big oak trees there and other kinds of trees that you’ll only see in that type of spot. It’s never been touched, never been developed. It’s so pristine.
Best Palmetto Bluff moment?
So far, my best moment at Palmetto Bluff was during one of my tomato tasting events. Towards the end, a club member stood up and acknowledged my hard work and passion towards my job. To have that person stand up and speak so kindly towards me was very rewarding—enough to bring a slight tear to my eye.
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