Dempsey Farms on St. Helena opens for the season

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By Bob Sofaly

Davey Dempsey is the third generation to own and farm Dempsey Farm on St. Helena Island.
Davey Dempsey is the third generation to own and farm Dempsey Farm on St. Helena Island.

It’s that time of year to get fresh, right from the vine, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, melons and peppers in all sizes and colors. That’s right, Dempsey Farms on St. Helena opened the season on June 7th and according to owner Davey Dempsey, the weather has been perfect for a bumper crop of just about everything.

“We actually had a spring this year” said the heavily whiskered, barrel chested Dempsey. “Normally we go from winter straight into Hot. In fact, we are still picking strawberries…….in June!” Dempsey said the amount of rain was good and the cool nights helps a lot too, but said if they get any more rain it will be bad for his tomatoes and cantaloupes. “Too much rain takes the sugar right out of the cantaloupes.”

The only thing that didn’t go according to plan was the ripening of his tomatoes. “We need another week or so for our ‘maters to get red. But when they turn red, we are going to have a bunch of ‘em.” Dempsey said he plants tomatoes in stages so he has a fresh crop to harvest all through the summer. “We’ll be picking ‘maters until well into August”, he said. “We stay busy.”

Dempsey’s boasts a loyal customer base. “People have been coming here all their lives,” he said. “They come here from all over the state”.

Debra Floyd and long-time friend Edith Brooks travel every year from Jackson, SC to pick vegetables and fruit. “WE just love it here” Floyd said as she looked over the tomato vines that were taller than she was.

“People were calling me as early as Memorial Day wondering if we were open yet,” Dempsey said because his big tent wasn’t up. “If you see my U-PICK sign up, we doin’ something. Come on in and see for yourself.”