ST. HELENA ISLAND — The Franciscan Center’s Project Hope landed a $15,000 grant from the Sisters of Charity of South Carolina to help them combat poverty in Allendale County.
The newest grant, their fourth, will be used primarily to develop a business plan for an agricultural venture in the community of Flat Street, Sugar Hill and Dale.
Winkie Schlaudecker, coordinator for the Center of Hope, said they are exploring a variety of options and will create a market analysis to see which product is the most viable for the area. Some crops they are considering include mushrooms, blueberries and pomegranates, and bamboo.
“The whole point is to create jobs,” Schlaudecker said. “We want to identify products that aren’t going to compete with any other businesses in the area.”
A new agricultural business is the latest undertaking for the center, which sponsors Project Hope as a collaborative outreach with others in the community.
“We’re all working together to get the plight of the people in Allendale in the public eye,” said Sister Sheila Byrne.
Sisters Sheila and Stella Breen have run the Franciscan Center for more than 20 years, developing a reputation for outreach to immigrants and the needy.
Schlaudecker said the grant will also help support the blueberry and pomegranate orchard in the Dale Community, aid in the revitalization of the Allendale Farmers’ Market, and support activities related to the development of recreational programs for youth. Allendale town council has already started the renovation of a building for use as youth center and the Franciscans have contributed to repair work on the roof.
Another program that the center continues to support is the Market Garden Project, which allows low-income individuals, families or communities to plant, tend and harvest vegetables and fruits.
Sister Sheila said they hope to tie the Market Garden to the new Farmers’ Market and sell produce there.