YORK — Recently a car pulled into Roe Inman’s driveway, across from Cotton Belt Elementary School on S.C. 5.
A couple wanted to know if they could use his place for their wedding. They were especially drawn to a large oak with a green porch swing. The couple undoubtedly were envisioning how it would look in May with full foliage.
Inman, 53, has a much different vision of the tree.
He remembers his father, also nicknamed Roe, taking him to very early morning breakfasts in York and then driving to the family farm. Inman remembers turning into the homestead, the lights of the pickup truck sweeping across the tree, revealing a mass of shadows – the tenant farmers awaiting their instructions for the day.
Inman wants to share this and other memories. He is opening the Inman farm as an agri-tourism site. Visitors will be able to tour the site, learning about what it was like to farm in York County from the late 1890s to the 1950s.
One of the highlights of the tour is the farm’s second peach packing shed. The first shed was built in downtown York next to the railroad when peaches left York County by train. The second shed, still with its original equipment, was built in 1951 when trucks hauled the produce. The shed is now The Market at Inman Farms.
To one side is a corn crib that once held the feed for 40 mules used for farming more than 1,000 acres where cotton was grown.
When boll weevils destroyed most of the cotton in the late 1920s, the Inmans, like many other York County farmers, planted peaches. In 1962, the family cultivated concord grapes. The last crop was soybeans. Farming ceased about 1985.
Gradually, much of the land was sold. Inman now retains about 290 acres.
To the other side of the oak is a simple white building. Opening its doors is like opening a time capsule. The building stores many of the farm’s implements of earlier days. There is a scale to weigh cotton bales and hand trucks to move them.
There are large sacks which once held 200 pounds of fertilizer for peaches and wooden boxes are stacked, each with name Inman Bros. The boxes were used to move the peaches from the orchards to the packing shed.
Inman said he learned some of his greatest lessons from the tenant farmers who worked the land. He recalled being told to hoe the grapes, a task that seemed insurmountable.
John Rainey, a tenant farmer, taught him otherwise. “You just take it one row a time,” Inman remembers being told.