Major AG Leaders Endorse Clemson’s Best™

Two of South Carolina’s most prominent agriculture leaders today endorsed CLEMSON’S BEST™ ice cream.

State Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers and Harry Ott, South Carolina Farm Bureau president, separately conveyed their support in letters to the head of Clemson’s finance and operations department, which is coordinating the university’s latest branded dairy venture.

“CLEMSON’S BEST™ ice cream connects connoisseurs directly to the farmers who grow [the main] ingredients,” Ott wrote in a letter to vice president Brett Dalton. “In keeping with the tradition of land-grant institutions, this partnership is a nod to Clemson’s agricultural roots.”

The 100,000-member organization Ott heads supports family farms and locally grown food and fiber. Its government relations division executes policies and acts as a watchdog of sorts for farm families, safe agriculture practices and rural lands — not unlike Clemson. And its latest dairy product reflects the university through and through.

The milk, fruits and nuts found in CLEMSON’S BEST™ gourmet flavors — Strawberry Shortcake, Peaches and Cream, Pecan Candy (butter pecan), and traditional vanilla — are grown in South Carolina by farmers educated at Clemson. The cream comes from cows at Hickory Hill Farms in Edgefield. Peaches are grown at Titan Farms in Ridge Spring and pecans are shipped from the Nut House, also in Ridge Spring. Strawberries are grown by McLeod Farms in McBee.

CLEMSON’S BEST ™ also has earned the Department of Agriculture’s Certified SC seal, and 10 percent of the proceeds directly benefit the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences. Pay-it-forward initiatives include internships, scholarships, and campus programs and activities.

“Production, processing, packaging, transportation, marketing and merchandising of CLEMSON’S BEST™ offers hand-on experimental learning for students in a variety of majors,” Weathers wrote. “Real-world internships and cooperative work experiences make students more employable. CLEMSON’S BEST is something to which everyone in South Carolina can raise a spoon.”

As Titan Farms owner Chalmers Carr reminded university brass in a third endorsement letter, the through-and-through concept is not a new approach for Clemson. In fact, the collaboration between farmers and their alma mater emphasizes the university’s deep roots. As a land-grant institution, it was established to give the middle class and working people access to government-funded education centered on agriculture and practical engineering. The concept encouraged long-lasting and close ties between graduates and their alma mater.

“At the very heart of the university is fulfilling the mission charged by the will of Thomas Green Clemson,” Carr wrote, citing the benefactor who left his antebellum home and wealth, including 814 acres, to the state for an agricultural college. “It was his desire to provide academic opportunities for South Carolinians, to lead research initiatives and to promote economic endeavors in this state. The CLEMSON’S BEST™ ice cream project fulfills each of those missions.”

Clemson’s legacy had once belonged to Vice President John C. Calhoun, whose daughter married Green, an engineer, musician and artist. Bibliographers have written that Clemson wanted to start an agricultural college because he felt government officials did not appreciate the importance of agricultural education. Clemson Agricultural College opened in July 1893 with 446 students. They were the first class to learn the college’s concept of paying forward and giving back.

“I speak for all the farm families involved in CLEMSON’S BEST™ when I say we get great satisfaction from putting a smile on the faces of those who enjoy food grown from our orchards, fields and farms,” Yon Family Farms owner Lydia Yon wrote in a letter to university VP Dalton. Pecans from her family’s orchards are used in CLEMSON’S BEST™ butter pecan-flavored ice cream.

“The story of this locally grown product is a testament that the education and training we received at CU is being put to good use,” she said.