Lexington County Farm-City

to strengthen the understanding of farm-city connections that provide food, fiber, and shelter.

About James R. Sease Farm, the Keislers and Strawberry Production


At the age of 14, Mike Keisler began farming with James R. Sease. Eventually, Mike and his wife Deek bought the farm keeping the Sease name. The farm has always been a peach business with nearly 500 acres of peaches at one time. Now, the Sease Farm produces a variety of vegetables and fruit – mustard, kale, yellow squash, and, of course, the first crop of spring, strawberries.

Mike and Deek Keisler started with 1 acre of strawberries nineteen years ago. They now have eleven acres of strawberries with about 165,000 plants producing about one-quarter million pounds of fruit in a seven-week period. Since it’s a short season, strawberry lovers need to get out to the farm early.

In South Carolina, there are about 70 growers producing strawberries on 600 acres valued in excess of $11 million, according to Powell Smith of Clemson Extension Service. The fruit brings early income especially to small farmers allowing them to get off the ground without getting operating loans.

The U.S. is the biggest grower and exporter of strawberries in the world. In fact, across the nation, the strawberry crop is the second most popular fruit next to apples. Mike says, “That’s just because strawberries taste good.” People want to eat food that tastes good, but they also want food that is healthy. Strawberries are convenient in that they come in a small bite-sized package and they are high in soluble fiber and antioxidents.  

Tyler said, “I can actually come out and be a farmer for a day. Why is that important?” “U-pick/We-pick operations are a great way to show how the farm and city connect,” said Loni Rikard, Lexington County Farm City Chair. “The vast majority of people today are so far-removed from agriculture that it’s really important for them to come directly to the farm, meet farmers like Mr. Mike, and see how farming is really done,” she said. “We have the safest, most affordable food supply in the world. Because our food is less expensive than in most other countries, we have more disposable income to spend on things other than the necessities.”

“The u-pickers are young people in their 20s to 30s who bring their children with them,” Mike said. “So, it’s not just for the strawberries. It’s an outing for the entire family.” He said, “Pick red strawberries because they won’t continue to ripen after they’re picked. Don’t pick orange berries. Let those continue to ripen in the field. Pick red berries. The redder the better!

Lexington County Farm-City

Sponsors 2015

Clayton Rawl Farms, Inc.

Lexington County Farm Bureau

Lexington School District I Center for Advanced Agribusiness Research, Pelion

Lexington Soil and Water Conservation District


Price's Country Store

Roof's Basket Works, Inc.

Sandhills Young Farmer & Agribusiness Chapter


South State Bank

W. P. Law, Inc.

W. P. Rawl & Sons, Inc.

Wingard's Nursery & Garden Center