By Nicole Collins
If you’re looking for a rustic, peaceful day in the country, Belmont Farm may just be the place for you.
Belmont Farm is a nonprofit, historic farm on 133 acres that offers fresh baked goods, goat milk soaps and more in its farm store. And don’t be fooled by its Enoree address, the farm is technically located on Highway 49 in Cross Anchor.
Owners Bill and DeAnn Barrett decided to name the property “Belmont Farm” after the original plantation that was established in the late 1700s by Judge John Grimke and his family. Thought the plantation home is no longer standing, the farm store operates out of the house that now sits in its place.
While Bill maintains the farm, it was DeAnn’s vision to open the farm store with the purpose of giving back to the community. Specifically to Thornwell, a diverse nonprofit ministry in Clinton that offers foster care services. “I’ve always had a heart for children in foster care.”
In the summer of 2019, DeAnn reached out to Thornwell offering to bake birthday cakes for all of the foster care children on-site. “Everyone should have a cake on their birthday. It’s just that simple.”
Once she cleared the volunteer process, she provided Thornwell with a list of cake flavors and frosting options that the kids can choose from for their cake. On average, DeAnn now bakes four to seven cakes per month for Thornwell.
“Having the opportunity to order their own birthday cake, just the way they’d like it, is an incredible gift to these teenagers,” says Sarah Bowers, volunteer coordinator for Thornwell. “No, it doesn’t fix their situation, they’re still in foster care, but in that moment, it’s all about them!“
DeAnn’s support doesn’t stop with the birthday cakes. The last week of December, with money she raised at the farm store since October, DeAnn was able to present Thornwell with a check for $1,300.
Bowers says that every little bit matters to Thornwell and that the nonprofit’s work “is not possible without the incredible generosity of individuals like DeAnn who use their gifts and talents to find creative ways to give back to their community.”
At any given time, Thornwell serves an average of 60 children at its Clinton site through the foster care, teen mom and independent living programs. These are all the children DeAnn is determined to bake a birthday cake for.
“Since I met with her the first time, [DeAnn] keeps asking to do more and more and it’s just such a blessing. Her spirit is 100% to serve these children and teens and we will never be able to thank her enough for the difference she has made not only to those we serve, but also to our staff!” says Bowers.
After the holiday season, DeAnn had to close the farm store temporarily due to insurance issues, but those issues have since been resolved. The store re-opened on February 1 and will be open on Saturdays going forward from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a variety of baked goods and other items to choose from.
DeAnn uses the best quality ingredients when baking, such as real butter and organic flour. “If you’re going to eat a baked good, make it as healthy as possible. No preservatives.”
In addition to the baked goods, DeAnn has also started offering keto-friendly items such as, biscuits, brownies and cheesecakes. She also makes pimento cheese spreads in plain, bacon and jalapeño flavors, as well as chicken salads and salmon spreads. These spreads are also keto-friendly.
DeAnn aims to post on the Belmont Farm Facebook page by Thursdays each week the items she’ll have available on that Saturday. If you can’t get to Belmont on a Saturday, don’t worry, she takes special orders any time.
Given the rural location of the farm, it’s not surprising that local residents do not have many dining out options close by. DeAnn will also have lunch items available such as, hot dogs, sandwiches, soups and cornbread and hopes that her neighbors and others will consider Belmont Farm as a place to grab a bite to eat on Saturday.
“I want people to come in relax, have a good time and enjoy the view. I want people that when they go away, they feel filled. That they feel they have been nourished and refueled. That’s my second purpose after Thornwell.”
Satisfying your sweet tooth isn’t the only reason to visit Belmont. Lamb meat will be available for purchase starting this month and you can also pick your own free range chicken and duck eggs. DeAnn raises ducks at Belmont, but the chicken eggs will come from a nearby chicken farm.
And what’s a visit to a farm if you don’t get your boots dirty. Take a tour! While best in spring and summer, farm tours can be scheduled throughout the year. The tour includes education about the sheep, a demonstration of how to milk the goat and then how the milk is processed. DeAnn shows how to milk the goat with milking equipment as well as by hand. Afterwards, the milk is then put through the cream separator.
On the horizon, DeAnn is excited about the commercial kitchen she and her husband are going to install in a separate building on the property. She currently bakes in the farm store kitchen and wants to maintain the authenticity of the house, which is why the commercial kitchen will go in a separate building.
With a commercial kitchen, she will be able to sell her food items at wholesale. She currently operates under cottage law which allows the sale of foods from a home kitchen.
Belmont Farm is completely funded by DeAnn and her husband, and she does not take a salary.
“I need to grow slow. The growth [so far] has been perfect for me because I do everything by myself.”
With her profits from the store, she first takes around 10 to 20 percent to donate to Thornwell and then she pays for materials, utilities and insurance. Anything left after operating costs will go to Thornwell.
“God has blessed us with this property and we are stewards of what He gave us and it’s not ours. It’s HIS. …We’re here to share that with others. I want to share it.”
*Editor’s note 2/17/2020: Since this article was published, DeAnn Barrett has decided to open a store in Union. The set up of the Union store is currently affecting the farm store hours on Saturday. Check the Belmont Farm Facebook page for updates.