Bryant’s son, Andy, is also a hunter, so Bryant plants corn, sunflowers and other food plots to attract deer, dove and other wildlife to his farm. Though many large acreage growers are using quail, deer and duck habitat to attract pay-for-hunt clientele, Bryant says his wildlife preservation efforts are for family and friends and part of his effort to help keep his land in balance with nature.

In early December Bryant Farms hosted a Farm-City Week tour. Farm City Week and Ag in the Classroom’s Summer Teacher Institute are two programs the South Carolina grower is adamant about supporting.

“Being proud of what we do as farmers and helping people who are not involved in farming understand what we do is critical to the future of our industry,” Bryant says.

He is a board member for the South Carolina Farm Bureau and his farm has been a frequent site for Farm Bureau-sponsored events.

Bryant is active in the Dillon Community, hosting several educational activities including Ag in the Classroom’s Summer Teacher Institute, also Elementary School Vehicle Day and High School Career days. 

He and his employees also plant a garden to support the local food bank and have helped develop a garden for the Master Gardner program.

Other regional conservation winners are Midwest — Ryan Speer of Jacob Farms in Sedgwick, Kan., and Northeast — Rodney Rulon of Rulon Enterprises in Arcadia, Ind.

One quick tour of Bryant Farms is enough to understand why Cullen Bryant is a serious contender for the National Conservation Legacy Award. Nothing is out of place on the farm or at his farm shop, which is heated with waste oil collected from routine vehicle oil changes.

The real secret, he says to being a good farmer and a conservation-minded farmer is his employees. “I hear all the horror stories about labor problems that farmers have, and I truly feel blessed to have such a dedicated and competent labor force to help me be the best farmer I can,” Bryant says.