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Meet the Maker: Will Altman of Altman Farm and Mill

  • , by Chris Dugas

As you travel north from Charleston, the marshes and waterways morph into rows of corn and fields of rye as the agricultural hub of Florence comes into view. With it, the name Altman also becomes a familiar sight over the doors of multiple businesses in the area and within the pantries of even more. 

Will Altman—founder of Altman Farm and Mill—has lived his whole life in

Florence and grew up working for his family’s tractor and farm equipment business, in operation since 1959. The name has become an integral part of the area’s farming community and in 2011, Altman took what he’d learned and decided to try his hand in the trade that he spent so much of his life supplying.

Originally, Altman raised heritage hogs and traveled to the Charleston area to sell the pork to local restaurants and at farmers markets. He quickly realized the limitations of one person running a heritage pork operation and eventually sold his last hog to pursue other farming interests. Altman ended up purchasing a small facility right around the corner from his house and began realizing his path to becoming a miller. Using the high-quality grains that he grows on his farm, Altman set out to create a line of non-GMO, heirloom grits, mixes, and batters that he mills, bags, and ships by hand with the help of his wife Tiffani. 

From the seat of a noisy UTV, Altman maps out the different plots of land home to the heirloom varieties of corn he recently planted. An heirloom blue, yellow, and the highly regarded Jimmy Red corn are just a few of the varieties. He explains how each plot individual plot requires specific, and constant, care before, during, and after planting. The level of care is based on soil quality, moisture, and a variety of other factors, and with extensive watering over the next sixty to 100 days, and a little luck, the corn will be ready for harvest.

Once Altman harvests the corn from their plots, he transports them to his mill where he begins processing the raw grains into his delicious line of products. Inside, he points to a metal flap through which the harvested corn is fed into the mill before it is ground between two granite stones; the first step in the operation. The grains are then fed through a sifter, and depending on the product, are sent back through the stones until the desired consistency is achieved. Finally, Altman fills his branded bags, seals them, and prepares each one for shipment.

Altman’s products, whether you’re using them for pancakes, cornbread, or cobbler, are clearly made with a high level of care, and you can taste it in the final product. “Heirloom just tastes better,” he preaches. Just one taste, and we think you’ll agree.  

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