includes Big’s Restaurant, operated by McLeod’s sister, Beth Watford.
She named Big’s after one of her cats.
“McLeod Farms is highly involved in agritourism,” McLeod says.
“We have festivals each year surrounding the strawberry, peach,
and pumpkin seasons. Over 5,000 school children visit the farm
throughout the year for field trips, and in the fall our corn maze
attracts more than 8,000 visitors. They can also go to the field and pick
their own strawberries and pumpkins.”
McLeod actually sells from three locations — the roadside market
south of McBee, a packinghouse north of McBee, and at the Farmer’s
Market in Florence, S.C. In the 1990s, he launched an online gift pack
business to ship peaches directly to customers. The third party Primus
organization verifies the safety of his peach and strawberry fruit crops.
McLeod was a commissioner of the Chesterfield County Conservation
District and was named Outstanding Conservation Farmer in the
county. He is a member of the McBee Town Council and has been on
the Chesterfield County Economic Development Board.
At the state level, he has been a member of the South Carolina
Farm Bureau Federation Fruit and Vegetable Committee. He received
the John W. Parris Agriculture Leadership Award, served as president
of the South Carolina Peach Council, received the honorary state
FFA degree in 2004, and his farm was recognized as a Century Farm
for operating more than 100 years. He also received the Order of
Palmetto, honoring his contributions to the state of South Carolina.
He is a contributor to the Harvest Hope organization that
collects food for the needy, is an alumnus of the Alpha Gamma Rho
agricultural college fraternity, and nationally, he received an honorary
American Farmer FFA degree and has been a member of the National
A graduate of Clemson University in 1976 with a degree in
agronomy, he returned to the farm to join his father and expand their
operation. His wife, Gaie, helps supervise field trips to the farm by
school groups. She helped welcome about 3,400 students to the farm
during this year’s strawberry season, and says 5,000 to 6,000 students
visit the farm each year. In late summer and early fall, she welcomes
school children to the farm during pumpkin season.
Kemp and Gaie have been active in McBee Presbyterian Church.
She is on the United Way Allocations Committee for Chesterfield
County, is a member of the Pee Dee Agritourism Committee, and has
been a member of State S.C. Agritourism Association.
McLeod Farms also helps to sponsor the popular “Making it Grow”
television program that airs weekly on South Carolina Public
Television stations. It features gardening and home horticulture
information, along with features about innovative South Carolina
farmers. Gaie has been a frequent guest on the program.
Their son, Spencer, who earned a degree in agricultural mechanization
from Clemson University, and later a Master of Business Administration
degree, is back working full time on the farm. He has taken the lead in
developing computerized technology for the farm, including wi-fi, apps
for remote management, and making sure all electronic devices used
on the farms can be interconnected. He is especially savvy at tracking
inventory and making sure he has records to verify that their fruit
handling complies with safety standards and good agricultural practices.
He is also working on a system to better track labor and equipment costs
for specific commodities produced on the farm.
Kemp is a member of the fourth generation of his family to farm in
this location, and son Spencer is the fifth generation. Kemp and Gaie
have three other children, daughter Amanda Odegard, an English
teacher; son Alexander McLeod III, an electrical engineer at Greenville,
S.C.; and daughter Rachel McCormick, who lives in Nashville, Tenn.,
and operates a day care facility.
Brian Callahan with the Clemson Extension Service coordinates the
Farmer of the Year award in South Carolina. McLeod was nominated
for the honor by Tony Melton, Extension horticulture agent in the Pee
Dee region of South Carolina.
“He is the best farmer I know,” says Melton, who worked on the
McLeod farm as a youth and used the money he earned there to
attend Clemson University. The McLeods have honored Melton’s
horticultural career by helping to fund a Clemson scholarship in
Mr. McLeod has the
ARMtech advantage. Do you?
South Carolina Farmer
of the Year for 2017
Mr. Kemp McLeod
On Winning the
South Carolina Farmer
of the Year