Rotary Club hears from SouthWind Plantation employees

Published 5:06 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Three employees from SouthWind Plantation made a presentation to the Rotary Club this week. Included in the group was Jessica Rich Cannon, who announced that she and her husband are in the final stages of selling their Cedar Farm to SouthWind.

As part of the deal, she is now employed by SouthWind to see over the puppy kennel and assist Leslie Bernier with the restaurant and special events operations.

Cannon, who has been with the plantation for about four weeks, said they had nine puppies born the day she started work. Their stated goal is to breed good bird flushing dogs, but as English Cockers, they also make wonderful house pets. She also announced the return of Summer Nights dinners available to the public on Thursdays and Fridays beginning May 3, by reservations only.

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The first of the speakers was Joseph Sunday, who did an internship with the company while he was in college. He gave a history of how the plantation came to be based on the inspiration of owner and developer Tim Smith, who in 1994  purchased the first 180 acres. He continued to add land and in 2000 SouthWind opened for business. It has continued to grow and has added more options, including the hunting dog breeding kennel. There are now seven lodges that can accommodate up to 54 guests comfortably. It attracts hunters and fishermen and many corporate groups from all over the world. He also mentioned the visit from a corporation from Miami, Fla. that came to the plantation a couple of years ago and mentioned they were looking for a place to relocate. Smith put the company in touch with Rick McCaskill of Industrial Development, and that is the Taurus Company that just announced they will relocate to Decatur County.

Sunday said that with the purchase of Cedar Farm the plantation will have grown to 6100 acres. It currently employs between 50 and 60 different employees, depending on the seasons.

Skyler Smith also spoke about the job of land management he oversees—how they manicure and create the best habitat for quail. They perform controlled burns to help the growth of wiregrass and acquire young quail, on which they do early release and keep them well fed so they turn out to flush well. He also spoke on the control of predators, including wild hogs. In answer to a question, he advised they do have ten horses and two pair of mules, adding how much fun it was to him to hunt on horseback.

All speakers invited the public to come tour the plantation and see all it has to offer. It has been endorsed since 2005 by Orvis and in 2017 was endorsed by Orvis as  Wingshooting Lodge of the Year.