Denise spent her childhood in Ridgeville, South Carolina learning from the women in her family about wildcrafting, gardening, farming, and the ins and outs of working with nature.
She has plans to use her story and healthy food business, Lighthouse HydroMart, to advocate on behalf of women farmers.
Denise hopes to push for a revamping of the outdated view that farming is just a male dominated industry.
“Women have always been farmers, however historically it has always seemed to be showcased as a man’s world,” Denise said. “I think land ownership had a lot to do with that. Women were not allowed to own the land they farmed, only men. It was easy for the credit of farming to go to the men of the land and not the women.”
Two out of five American Farmers are women according to the USDA’s 2017 Census of Agriculture.
Denise’s business, Lighthouse HydroMarts, was awarded $30,000 from our statewide Feeding Innovation cohort at its December 2020 Pitch Night finale. Feeding Innovation is a program designed to support entrepreneurs interested in developing a health food business in the food deserts and underserved areas of South Carolina.
Lighthouse HydroMarts is a mobile grocery service that focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables. Denise uses the hydroponic farming system to grow her crops. This method allows plants to grow in a climate-controlled environment without soil.
Her van will serve the underserved areas of Dorchester County. She also plans on selling specialty items like microgreens.
“I recently spoke with a farm service agent about my crops and he asked me how did I think I was going to be able to grow multiple crops,” Denise said. “He told me it would be too hard, and I needed to focus on one crop. This is why it is important for me to be an advocate for women. I don’t believe he would have said that to me or questioned my ability to farm if I was a man.”