Founded by award-winning architect and native Columbia resident Robbie McClam in 2009, City Roots is widely recognized for its achievements in urban, organic and sustainable farming. Robbie's son, Eric, also an architect, joined his father a year later and now manages the farm.

 
Father and son partners Robbie and Eric McClam

Father and son partners Robbie and Eric McClam

 

 At City Roots, we strive to plant the seeds of sustainability to take root throughout our community.

We come from humble beginnings in 2009, with a mission to produce clean, healthy and sustainably grown products. To this day, we aim to create a culture that enhances and educates our community about the benefits of locally grown food and environmentally friendly farming practices.  

We keep bees not only for honey but for pollination, and raise chickens not only for eggs, but for the fertility they add to our soil. We do extensive crop rotations and cover cropping for soil fertility and pest management.  We have a large scale composting operation which we use to amend our soil and by doing so have diverted hundreds of tons of material destined for the land fill into rich, fertile soil. We produce microgreens year round and operate an aquaponic system which is the combination of aquaculture, the production of commercial fish (tilapia), and hydroponics, the growing of plants in a water medium, that mimics a stream and pond ecosystem.  We operate our farm in a holistic fashion with each part playing an integral role in the overall system. 

Our 3-acre farm has established a perennial part of community life for the residents of Columbia. While we only started out with the goal of putting plant roots in the ground, we are delighted with our added role of providing a fertile place for people to become rooted to.

 
Apiary for pollination and honey

Apiary for pollination and honey

why sustainable farming?

Benefits You

Your health is important to us! Eating fresh local vegetables is not only one of the best things you can do to improve your health, but it's great for your tastebuds, too.  Local, sustainably-grown food tastes better because it's fresh and there are no added preservatives. City Roots is a USDA-Certified Organic farm, which means our products are the safest for our customers because we grow them naturally without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.

BENEFITS the community

As a local business, we keep your dollars circulating in the local economy instead of sending them elsewhere. Several of us grew up in Columbia, SC and we are committed to making it a better place for everyone, residents & visitors alike! We employ locally, use local companies where we can and engage volunteers and civic leaders. Supporting us means that we can continue to engage and support our community. 
 

BENEFITS THE ENVIRONMENT

We avoid polluting the land by avoiding synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Also, our produce is grown right here in town & not shipped thousands of miles, which saves energy and keeps CO2 out of the atmosphere. We practice environmentally-friendly farming practices such as cover cropping, vermicomposting, aquaponics, and using solar panels. Ultimately, we are constantly working to steward the land around us, cultivate the soil, the culture and the built environment that we call home. 

 

Some of our sustainable farming practices at work!

Barn Structure and Event Pavilion – designed to meet LEED standards, engage audiences and house some of our farm operations
Vegetable Fields –  approximately 3 acres in cultivation in crop rotation with cover cropping
Apiary – for pollination and honey
Compost – for soil amendment and recycling leftover wood chips otherwise destined for a trash pile
Perennials – Blackberry, Asparagus, Muscadine, Blueberries, Figs
Free Range Chickens – chicken tractor, egg production, cultivation, soil amendment via manure
Herb Garden – Medicinal, culinary, fragrance, dye, cutting
Tilapia – 3,000 gallon tank with 1500 tilapia raised in an aquaponic system
Aquaponic Sytem – close loop symbiotic system that serves as biological filter for Tilapia
Microgreens – year round microgreen production
Propagation/Plant starts – allows us to begin our seedling early for the season
Agritourism – promotes organic and sustainable farming education and engagement within our community
Oyster Shell Recycling Station– to the left of the farm's entrance is an oyster shell recycling station where community members can drop off used oyster shells. After letting the shells dry for 6 months, the Department of Natural Resources will pick them up and haul them out to the state's estuaries, where the dumped shells provide a surface for free-swimming larvae to clamp onto, ensuring future oyster harvests! .

Co-Founders and Owners

Robbie McClam
Co-Owner and Founder 

As an award winning architect and contractor, Robbie worked in the private sector as the owner of an architectural practice and construction/development company.  He also has worked in the public sector.  During the 1990’s he served as the Executive Director of the city’s non-profit Columbia Development Corporation, Master Planner for the State Budget and Control Board, and as Director of the state’s Office of General Services a 600 employee agency.

Having spent the last 30 years in the professional world, he has returned to the profession that provided him with his first job – farming.  His father was raised on a farm in Lake City, S.C. and Robbie had the good fortune to spend the summers of his youth there, working and living with relatives.  Those summers left him with fond memories and an awareness of the pleasures and demands of the farming life.

In 2008, ready for a new challenge, Robbie learned of the McArthur (Genius Award) award winning urban farmer Will Allen and his farm Growing Power in Milwaukee and enrolled in its 5 month Commercial Urban Agriculture Program.  With the Growing Power model in mind, he acquired the land for City Roots in 2009 and began construction completing the building and greenhouse in early 2010.  In its first year City Roots has been widely recognized for its innovative efforts winning the International Down Town Association’s Pinnacle Award, The Free Times Best New Green Business, Columbia Choice Award, and Richland County’s Farm City Award.

Eric McClam
Co-Owner and Farm Manager

Eric, like his father Robbie, first pursued a career in the architectural field only to find himself back with his hands in the soil in his native South Carolina.  A graduate of Tulane University School of Architecture, Eric returned from New Orleans to initiate the construction and implementation of City Roots.

As a child, Eric spent time at his grandfather’s farm in Lake City, SC.  Later, while studying architecture, he had the good fortune to work, study, and travel through Europe, Central and South America learning about architecture and culture.  The most interesting aspect he observed was a more efficient use of land and how that affected the buildings they lived in and the food they ate.  The creation of City Roots has given him the opportunity to work towards a sustainable and equitable model of land use for the production of locally grown food and the dissemination of information to share with the community.

Eric has always loved working with his hands, both with the earth and constructing built forms.  Much of what he has done with farming parallels his work in the architectural profession.  It’s the attention to detail and the intimacy of the process – from the moment you break grown, sow seeds, and hold a hammer or put pen to paper until you see the fruits of your labor, whether that be literal fruit or physical structure – that has made City Roots a true labor of love for Eric.

 

 

Staff

Beth Lund
Greenhouse Manager 

Misty Shealy
Greenhouse Assistant

Matthew Ives
Greenhouse

Bre Moore-Martin
Greenhouse

 

Andrew Rea
Field Manager

Rigsbee Sanders
Field

Ben Ebert
Field

Audrey Martinich
Field

Spencer Junclaus
Mushroom Manager

Ben Ebert
Mushroom Production

 

Annie Rea
Office Manager

Frances Magun
Sales and Market Manager

Erin Eisele
Programs and Communications

 

Peter Lund
Retail

Open Positions


FILLED: Cut Flowers Manager

City Roots is growing its cut-flower production. Do you have experience with flower farming and want to work in Columbia?

Qualifications

  • Knowledge of floral industry and flower farming in Columbia's growing zone
  • Ability to work in a team environment 
  • Knowledge of Flower CSAs and marketing

FILLED: Communications and Marketing Intern, Spring 2017

Want to help tell our story? Intern with our Communications Manager! Create content for social media, blog and the website, while learning about urban, organic agriculture and a growing agriitourism operations.

Qualifications

  • College student with a hospitality and/or agritourism focus
  • Ability to write skillfully and effectively 
  • Knack for engaging audiences with creative content

FILLED: Microgreens Assistant

Assist our microgreens production team in the washing, drying and packing of our micros. This position is mainly indoors in the Barn building position. Training will include the entire microgreens process from soil to seed to harvest. Part-time, approx. 30 hours per week. 


Apply

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