Turning It Around
After losing 100% of his pecan crop and several large trees to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Jim Rathbun of Beaufort’s Brickyard Point Farms decided to put the salvaged wood to good use by turning it into one-ofa- kind bowls.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to try,” says Rathbun, “but when you’re a farmer, you don’t have a whole lot of free time. Suddenly, Matthew rolled in, and I had a huge abundance of wood and no crop to deal with, so I started to teach myself.”
By watching experts on YouTube and using a turning machine given to him by a friend, he quickly picked up the craft, creating more than 200 bowls in his first eight months from a variety of woods, including pecan, cherry and cedar. But Rathbun is partial to one in particular: “Pecan is my favorite,” he says. “It’s just so beautiful when it’s finished.”
Though his farm in Beaufort grows mainly pecans, with about 340 trees producing the nut, he also plants a number of citrus fruits, pomegranates and persimmons. He sells mostly to the Charleston-based food hub GrowFood Carolina and at the local farmers’ market, where he also serves up an incredible pecan candy made by his wife, Nancy.
Sadly, this September he lost 50 to 60% of his crop again to Hurricane Irma, but Rathbun continues churning out bowls of all sizes, putting roughly three to four hours of work into each. Every piece is distinct and handmade, making them timeless heirloom objects perfect to pull out on special occasions or to make use of year-round.
“They show the nature of the wood, the way it actually is,” he explains. “Every single bowl has some unique quality to it.”