Business Owner + Founder Rita’s Roots Backyard Harvest 2011
~ Gardener · Teacher · Mentor ~
After receiving a Political Science and Art degree from the College of Charleston in 2004, Rita began her career in agriculture as an apprentice on a bountiful family farm in the Catskill Mountains of New York. She worked with an inspiring couple and their children pulling weeds, planting lettuce, thinning beets, and delivering freshly harvested produce to restaurants in New York City. Because of her experience Mountain Dell Farm she became devoted to the ideal of organic, sustainable, locally-grown food. A subsequent internship on Towani Organic Farm in central California added to her passion and knowledge.
Rita returned to Charleston in 2006 to apply her newly developed farming skills in the Lowcountry. She began by starting a small, organically certified farm on Johns Island and quickly began to develop a following amongst area chefs. Over the next several seasons she partnered with several established farmers on Wadmalaw Island to found Rita’s Roots and shared with them the value of organic farming and marketing through CSAs. Rita was a regular figure at the Marion Square Farmers’ Market and spent some time working at a hydroponic lettuce greenhouse in Huger, SC.
Transitioning from the field in 2011, Rita founded Rita’s Roots Backyard Harvest with the goal of assisting aspiring gardeners in establishing productive vegetable gardens and farms of their own in the Lowcountry. Rita simultaneously served as the Lowcountry Local First Dirtworks Incubator Farm Mentor and Manager from 2012-2014.
Rita and her crew currently assist about 80 gardens per season!
Lead Garden Guru
Kim spent most of her youth in the upstate of South Carolina in a gardening family. After graduating high school in Kentucky, she returned to South Carolina to go to college at Clemson University. She holds both a BS in Biological Sciences and an MS in Plant and Environmental Sciences. During her time as a masters student, she worked on the 15-acre on campus Student Organic Farm. It was there that she learned the practices of organic farming. When she is not in the gardens, she is spending time with her awesome husband and spunky six year old, or slinging amazing vittles at Wild Olive Restaurant on Johns Island.
Garden Installation + Irrigation Specialist
Over the past 7 years, Mark has been mastering alternative methods to gardening and farming in the lowcountry to build himself a more sustainable lifestyle. He is passionate, has a keen attention to detail and skillful construction abilities!
With degrees in both Biology and Art from the College of Charleston and having prior experience with organic and sustainable farming and gardening, Mark has taken on the role of Garden Installer + Irrigation Specialist for Rita’s Roots.
Natalie has over 10 years experience working with plants and flowers. Her interests and skills range from cut flowers, potted ornamental flowers, greenhouse + nursery production, and free-lance floral design for weddings and special events. A Charleston native, she is loving honing her edible food plant expertise with Rita’s Roots.
Jessica’s educational background in accounting and prior experience in office management made her a perfect fit to take the majority of Rita’s office work off her hands, so those hands would have more time to get dirty!
Jessica met Rita in 2009 when her husband, Aron, worked on Rita’s CSA crew. She and their daughters volunteered on that farm and also with farms in Hawaii and California. In 2011, Rita helped her setup her first home garden here in Charleston, which was impressively productive!