Ten at the Top to Hold Entrepreneurship and Small Business Workshop in Abbeville

Ten at the Top to Hold Entrepreneurship and Small Business Workshop in Abbeville

August 19, 2019 [Greenville, SC]— Ten at the Top (TATT) invites members of the Abbeville County community to participate in a community workshop focused on Growing Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses. The workshop will be held on September 9th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at West Carolina Tel (229 Highway 28 Bypass). Lunch will be served starting at 11:15.

The workshop is one of 10 county workshops TATT is holding across the Upstate in 2019 as part of the 10th anniversary year for the organization.

“We have had very successful events in Laurens and Union, and we are looking forward to this workshop in Abbeville,” said Ten at the Top Executive Director Dean Hybl. “The purpose of these workshops is to help a community learn about ideas and resources that can help them address a specific need within their community.

“Supporting entrepreneurs is something that’s important to us as an organization—one of our five working groups focuses on creating a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he continued.

Speakers will include Erin Ouzts, Chair of Ten at the Top’s Upstate Entrepreneur Support Providers Network; Dave Eldridge, CEO of Tri-County Entrepreneurial Development Corporation; and Brian “Zig” Ziegelheafer, Co-Founder and Leader of BGEN, Gaffney’s small business incubator. They will provide an overview of how to build opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business owners within a community.

Michael Clary, Community Development Director for the City of Abbeville, along with Paige Bowser, owner of local business Breezy Quarters, will talk following those presentations about opportunities and resources available to entrepreneurs in Abbeville.

“The City is excited for the opportunity to have this platform to communicate the steps being taken to support Small Business and Entrepreneurs in Abbeville. We are also excited to hear from professionals in other communities about strategies they have used to support small businesses in their respective communities,” Clary said.

The Abbeville County Workshop is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested. Lunch will be provided. To register, click here.

Table Rock Tea Company: Growing American Tea

Table Rock Tea Company: Growing American Tea

When you think of the mountains of Upstate South Carolina, do you think of tea growing country? If not, Steve and Jennifer Lorch of Table Rock Tea Company want to change that.

Right now, both Steve and Jennifer have day jobs while they live and work on the property in Pumpkintown, intentionally growing the business slowly and steadily, with just an acre of tea plants right now. But they have plans to build up to 5 acres in the next few years, and in 10 years or so, there are plans to purchase the neighboring property, which will give them more land to plant and another building to house a café and bakery.

Right now, though, the focus is on germinating the seeds from the plants they have so that all of the future plants will come from their own property, without having to import seeds—and on growing, making, and selling tea.

Mature seeds of the tea plant

Making the most of other income-generating opportunities, Table Rock also sells honey from the bees they keep to pollinate the tea plants in their Christmas gift boxes, and there is a camp site on the property that is rented out nearly every weekend of the year.

Additionally, the Lorches have created a tea consortium so that others can help them grow and process more tea than they can do on their own. Because that one acre is all the two of them with their day jobs want to manage, the consortium allows anyone within an hour radius to buy plants from the Table Rock greenhouse. “They own the land, they own the plants, and we buy the leaves back from them,” Jennifer says. The hour radius allows for the freshest leaves to be used to make the tea.

The seeds are harvested in November, right when the plants go dormant for the winter, and they are mass-germinated in bins in the greenhouse: an inch of soil, 1,000 seeds on top of that, and then another inch of soil. The bins are covered and placed in a smaller greenhouse inside of the greenhouse, where they stay warm through the winter before the little plants pop out in the spring.

Around 20,000 plants will survive to be planted in the ground, of which 5,000 will be sold to tea consortium members.

The spring volunteer days bring students and visitors to the property to help plant the seedlings in pots to keep growing for another year in the greenhouse before they can be sold to the consortium or planted on the property. Future Farmers of America students come for a couple of hours and can plant 1400 plants in that time. “We couldn’t do it without them,” Jennifer says.

Harvesting the tea is a labor-intensive job, as it’s done by hand to get only the bud, or “flush” of new leaves for the best flavor. After harvest, the leaves go on a withering bed for 10-20 hours—just so the leaves get limp, but not dry. What happens next depends on whether they are going to be made into green tea, Oolong tea, or black tea—but all of those tea types, as well as white and yellow tea, start with the same leaves.

Steve and Jennifer do all of the harvesting and processing on their own for now, but they are dreaming big for the future. “Here’s our big dream: We want the Upstate to be known as tea country, just like Napa Valley is known as wine country,” Jennifer says.

If you’re interested in visiting yourself, click here to find out how!

Some tea facts:

  • ¼ pound of dried tea comes each plant each year, which is 50 cups of tea. At 4000-5000 plants per acre, that’s 50,000

    Mature tea plants

    cups of tea from one acre

  • Only tea that comes from tea plants is a true tea. Although we refer to herbal teas, they are technically “tisanes,” but we have come to call any beverage that is steeped “tea.”
  • There are two ways to decaffeinate tea: one is a chemical process (which is what large companies like Lipton and Tetley do), and the other is to steep for 20 seconds and then pour off the water, which loses about 80% of caffeine. Chemically decaffeinated tea still has about 3% caffeine.
  • A pound of dried tea has twice as much caffeine than a pound of dried coffee, but a cup of coffee has more—because it takes 20 grams of coffee to make a cup, but 2 only grams of tea.
  • Tea leaves are serrated and waxy and naturally caffeinated, so the plants have no natural predators—deer, rabbits, raccoons all leave it alone.

by Sharon Purvis

A sampling of the products for sale at Table Rock Tea Company

 

View of Table Rock from the camp site.

Pumpkinstock: Music, Camping, and River Fun

Pumpkinstock: Music, Camping, and River Fun

Sure, the Woodstock 50th anniversary festival may have been cancelled, but we have our own three-day camping music festival right here in the Upstate this weekend! Since we’re in the mountains, the music has a distinctly grassy flavor, covering a wide range of music that falls into the Americana genre.

Pumpkinstock is the brain child of long-time music festival promoter Pat Mulkey, and although the idea for this festival came because he wanted to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock—particularly with the on again, off again, and now definitely off again roller coaster ride of the big anniversary show in New York—he’s calling this the inaugural event, hoping to do it annually.

Pat Mulkey on the Bonfire Music Fest property

The festival is hosted by Mulkey’s Bonfire Music Fest, a campground in Pumpkintown that was developed especially for camping music festivals, with both RV sites and tent sites. This will be the second festival held on the property, after a very soggy one a couple of years ago where it rained all weekend. The forecast for this weekend is much more favorable for an outdoor music festival—and even if it’s a little hot, festival goers are welcome to cool off in the river on the property (but no glass in or near the river, please!).

Three-day tent or RV passes as well as single-day passes (no single-day camping) can be purchased online. There are no hookups for RVs, but you can bring a generator, and there are plenty of Port-a-Johns around the camp sites. The festival is kid- and pet-friendly (with a $10 pet fee that will be donated to the Pickens County Humane Society), and campers can bring their own food and drinks or buy meals and beer and wine from food trucks that will be onsite.

Gates open to campers at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, with music getting underway at 4:00 p.m. until right before midnight. Saturday’s lineup starts playing at noon, and on Sunday the music starts goes from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m.

The Grass is Dead, a bluegrass Grateful Dead cover band led by Billy Gilmore, is the host band for the festival, and the West End String Band is “the official campground band.”

Other bands include:

Songs from the Road Band, a folky, grassy band

Fresh Hops, which features a fiddle, but also some funky fusion and just plain fun

Marvin King Revue, definitely more blue than grass

The Raelyn Nelson band, fronted by Willie Nelson’s granddaughter

JGBCB—Jerry Garcia Cover Band, which is pretty self-descriptive

Mama Said String Band, an almost-all-female new-grass band (only the fiddle player is male)

 

The Complete Music Lineup for Pumpkinstock:

Friday

Marvin King Revue

RJ Galloway

Westend String Band

Marvin King Revue

Jerry Garcia Band Cover Band JGBCB

The Grass Is Dead

 

Saturday

RJ Galloway

My Girl My Whiskey and Me

Sunflowers and Sin

Shuffel Button

Kelly Jo and Phat Lip

Sunflowers and Sin

Mama Said String Band

Fresh Hopps Band

Raelyn Nelson Band

Billy Gilmore and Grass Is Dead

Bonfire Jam

 

Sunday

Mama Said String Band

Some Very Special Guests

West End String Band—Our Official Campground Band!

Rev Jeff Mosier and Friends and Family Jam

Songs from the Road Jam

The Grass is Dead’s Goodbye Jam

Pickin’ at the Fire

This schedule is subject to change, but regardless of what the lineup looks like, a good time will be had by all.

18 Years of Supporting Literacy with the Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale

18 Years of Supporting Literacy with the Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale

It’s the highlight of the summer for book lovers like yours truly—a whole mall with tables and tables filled with books priced from 50 cents to $8, alphabetized by author in various categories, from biography to romance to children’s books to cookbooks. And it’s happening this weekend, August 10th–11th—the Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale.

What used to be the McAlister Square Mall now contains University Center of Greenville, Public Education Partners, and several other education- and employment-focused entities, including the Greenville Literacy Association, who runs the sale to help fund its operations in Greenville County.

With a staff of 11 and an army of 300 volunteers, the GLA serves about 1,000 people every year, with GED and ESL classes, career counseling, and other assistance—and tucked away behind the offices and classrooms are storage rooms full of boxes of donated books that are collected throughout the year, sorted and boxed with impressive efficiency by volunteers to be pulled out in the days before the sale.

The event begins with a preview party on Friday night, with food, wine, and a jazz trio—and a chance to have first dibs on the books for sale. Tickets are $40 for an individual or $70 for a couple, and they’re on sale online through tonight, but you can purchase a ticket at the door on Friday, too.

The sale officially opens on Saturday morning at 8:30, but book buyers eager to beat the rush can pay $10 at the door at 7:30 to have an extra hour of shopping. Free admission goes from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and on Sunday, from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., it’s $10 for whatever you can put in a bag.

If you’ve never been, it’s helpful to have a map of the sale, so you can go right to the books you want. If you come in the center entrance to the mall, the wing on the left is nonfiction and on the right is fiction; straight ahead of you, past the center island, is children’s and miscellaneous. But within those general categories, there are several subcategories: Christian fiction, romance, westerns, sci-fi, and general fiction in the right-hand wing, and history, social science, biography & memoir, cookbooks, sports, and more on the left. “Miscellaneous” includes classics, philosophy, drama, and short stories. The children’s section includes YA, middle readers, puzzle/activity books, and picture books.

You’ll want to bring a large tote bag with you if you’re planning to really do some shopping. More experienced shoppers—teachers, homeschool moms, and serious readers—bring rolling carts and boxes to maximize the haul.

The Really Good, Really Big, Really Cheap Book Sale: By the Numbers

  • The sale is in its 18th year.
  • It takes more than 300 volunteers to make it all happen.
  • Last year, the estimated attendance was 11,000 people (based on an algorithm involving a count of receipts).
  • Last year’s sales totaled $112,000.
  • The preview party usually draws about 400 people.
  • The previous record for number of books at the sale was 148,000 two years ago. This year the goal was to collect 150,000—and they ended up with 156,000!
  • The children’s books section is bigger than ever this year—it’s usually around 45,000, and this year it’s 66,000. And all children’s books are 2 for $1!
  • When it’s all over after the Sunday clearance sale, only about 20,000 books are left, so the collection process pretty much starts from scratch each year.
  • 100% of the books are donated, and the sale is volunteer-run, so the money goes directly to programming to promote literacy in Greenville County.

 

By Sharon Purvis