Food & Wine // 6 min Read

Behind the Bluff with Farm Manager Shane Rahn

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Sep 28, 2022

If the Gate’s Open, Come on In!

The Palmetto Bluff Farm plays a significant role within the Bluff community and the surrounding Bluffton area. Cultivating an inviting atmosphere, The Farm welcomes staff and members to take part in any aspect of farm life, big or small. With that being said, The Palmetto Bluff Farm would not be where it is today without Farm Manager, Shane Rahn.

In an interview with Shane, we took a deep dive into his background and how his journey of farming and agriculture has shaped the influence of the current Palmetto Bluff Farm and its progression towards conservancy.

Farmer Born, Farmer Bred

As a child, Shane grew up on acres of Palmetto Bluff gardening with his dad and grandfather, and overtime developed a love for farming. During his childhood, Shane recalls Saturday mornings spent playing in the garden or trailing his grandfather’s heels while tilling. Although he grew older, his passion for agriculture remained as he studied Crop and Soil Science at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. After college, Shane started working for the Palmetto Bluff Conservancy in May of 2016. His four and a half years spent with the Conservancy team allowed him to learn more about the natural and historic wildlife surrounding the Bluff. By the Fall of 2020, Shane was eager to accept the offer as Farm Manager at Palmetto Bluff. His upbringing on Palmetto Bluff, valuable knowledge of agricultural practices, and the many summers he spent with hands-on learning, have all had an impact on Shane’s blooming success.

When asked who the greatest influences have been throughout his life, Shane responded, “My father and Jay Walea, the Director of Palmetto Bluff Conservancy, who has known me since I was six weeks old.” His father gave him the love for farming, and Jay Walea was able to bring his passion to a reality. It’s clear from our conversation with Shane that family is not only a personal passion but the heart of the Palmetto Bluff Farm.

Stronger Together

Working on a farm is no easy task, but many hands make light work. Shane shared that his collaboration with other Palmetto Bluff staff includes familiar faces such as Chef Rhy Waddington, two full-time volunteers (Sherry and Terry), and other resident volunteers.

The chefs at Palmetto Bluff work closely with Shane as they come out to the Farm three days a week to help with planting fresh crops. Before they arrive, Shane preps the crops for them and shows them what he has planned for each season.

This harvest season, Shane plans to grow:

  • Spinach

  • Parsnips

  • Collard Greens

  • Brussel Sprouts

  • Broccoli

  • Cabbage

  • Butternut & Hubbard Squash

  • Kale

These crops will last well into February as they come to fruition in the later months of the year.

Shane tells us that 90 percent of what is grown on the Farm goes directly to Cole’s, an exclusive restaurant reserved for Palmetto Bluff residents. The other 10 percent goes to RT’s Market at The Montage, an exclusive resort at Palmetto Bluff. Not only does Shane work closely with other Palmetto Bluff personnel, but he also values showing Bluff residents what the Farm has to offer.

On Wednesdays and Fridays, residents of Palmetto Bluff are welcome to volunteer at any capacity on the Farm. It is important for Shane to build trust, as he shows them how the farm works. After you’ve volunteered for the first time, residents are welcome back anytime. In Shane’s words, “If the gate’s open, come on in!”

Related: 6 Benefits of Farm to Table Dining

Get Your Hands Dirty

Educating the Bluff’s residents is one of Shane’s favorite parts of working on the Farm. One of the most satisfying aspects of his career is seeing someone’s face light up as they learn about the gardens and many features of the Farm. Education directly leads to exposure, allowing for Shane to share all that he loves about the Farm with others.

Shane currently owns two gardens, one high fence garden along with one half fence garden, covered with roughly 8800 feet of plastic. The gardens sprawl out approximately a mile or longer, allowing for 24 rows of double planted crops. Residents can stop by and purchase produce directly from the Farm, but anyone is welcome.

A popular favorite from Shane’s garden is his variety of fresh tomatoes. Shane allows residents to come and pick a couple of their own tomatoes as he grows hybrid versions, allowing for a diverse picking. One of his favorite memories is from this past June, where Palmetto Bluff experienced the largest harvest in history. In one morning, Shane and other Palmetto Bluff staff picked 2300 tomatoes for the Tomato Sandwich Event. There, residents enjoyed a simple and classic dish, a tomato sandwich, known as a staple in the South.

All Palmetto Bluff employees have an opportunity to meet with Shane and learn more about the farm initiatives that support the overall mission of Palmetto Bluff. This is a part of a 5-class series called PB 101 offered to all employees.

The Palmetto Bluff Farm is constantly introducing new, one-of-a-kind experiences for residents and employees to take part in. Below are some of the newest plans that Farmer Shane is actively working to implement on the Farm.

New & Future Developments

The Farm will soon be home to chickens and goats as South Street Partners has approved the construction of a pen for them. This allows the animals to run free on the Farm while also protecting them from predatory wildlife.

Also in the works is a vineyard containing pear trees, citrus fruits, and rows of fresh berries.

Meet the Man Behind the Farm

As a resident of Palmetto Bluff, you will have the opportunity to meet the renowned Shane Rahn. You will also have access to volunteer on the Farm, experience farm-to-table dining, and other first-class amenities. Membership in the Palmetto Bluff Club as well as access to wellness facilities and community events are also available. To join the sustainability efforts of Palmetto Bluff, or to simply learn more about living in our community, click the link below to book your visit. The Bluff looks forward to welcoming you!

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