Inside OEA: E. Hodge Outdoor Edition

Hey, guys! Emily, here. In case you don’t know who I am or what I do, let me try to break it down. I serve as the Research and Existing Industry Manager for the Oconee Economic Alliance. A typical day for me ranges from answering questions about any of our SC Certified Industrial Parks (we have three, in case you didn’t know), meeting with local industry leaders, recruiting new industrial companies to Oconee County, or providing snazzy research reports on a myriad of topics. Let me tell you, I nerd out over all things data, statistics, and trend lines (pushes glass up onto bridge of nose…. Just kidding. I don’t wear glasses). Long live the nerds!

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Ahem. Anyway. In sticking with our new “Inside the OEA/Meet the Staff” edition, you’re stuck with me as I talk about a few of my favorite things (we’re all Julie Andrews fans, let’s be real). Last time, Daja told you about some of her favorite places to eat, and while I am a big fan of good food, I’m not quite at Daja’s level. I am, however, a level VI green thumb. First stop for me is my favorite business in Oconee County (and the world): Head Lee Nursery. This is my happy place. While most people go to the garden center a few times during the spring or summer to get what they need for their yard, my relationship with Head Lee is year-round. On a particularly cold, dreary day, I often spend my lunch walking through the greenhouse, soaking in the warmth, humidity, and smell of green things growing. It’s my therapy. Also, shout-out to my girl, Suzanne, who always greets me by name when I walk through the door. Yes, I go there that often and no, I am NOT ashamed. Plants are my family.

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When I’m not attempting to sneak yet another plant into the house without my husband noticing (it’s getting easier as my collection grows), another place I like to spend some time is Chattooga Belle Farms. By now, I feel like you’re probably getting the vibe that I’m an outdoorsy-type person, but let’s not forget that I also like food. Chattooga Belle gives me both. At Belle’s Bistro, I can order a knock-your-socks-off burger and sit outside to enjoy panoramic views of the mountains. My go-to favorites are the mushroom swiss, and pimento cheese burgers. My. Goodness!! These are made from Chattooga Belle Farms beef and are SO tender and juicy! You absolutely cannot go wrong with one of these burgers. Beyond the food and views, Chattooga Belle offers the opportunity to stroll through the vineyards and fruit trees, or meander down to their distillery to sample some of their unique whiskies, brandies, vodka, and more. While I’m not quite that hard core (moscato, please!), I do enjoy going to feed the chickens (rest in peace, rooster Elvis) and ducks that live down by the distillery. I like animals, okay. Don’t judge!

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After a long week of working to promote Oconee County as the best place on earth to live and own/operate a business, I look forward to a weekend of being outside. As we all know, Oconee County is beyond blessed with natural resources. Lakes, rivers, waterfalls, golf… we really have the market cornered. Unfortunately, I couldn’t hit a golf ball to save my life, so I opt to go hiking. One of my absolute favorite trails is Lee Falls. It is also my dog’s favorite place to go hiking, so it’s a double win. While we’re on the subject, let me tell you about my dog. Brody is a year-old rescue from the Oconee Humane Society. My husband and I were fortunate enough to find him after hearing an ad on local radio station 94.1 The Lake for an adoption event (thank you, Nona!). The rest is history! Brody now comes on every hike we go on, and he is absolutely adorable! He is very athletic and loves to run through the fields that this trail ambles through. His favorite part, however, is crossing the stream. This pupper LOVES water! A hike at Lee Falls always leaves us smiling and laughing as we watch Brody thoroughly enjoy life. If you’re okay getting your feet a little wet (sometimes the stream crossings are tricky), I highly recommend taking a day to stroll through the fields and woods leading to the base of the waterfall. Better yet, go adopt a dog from the Humane Society and THEN go for a hike! Shelter pups are the best!

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Well, that’s all I have for today. Thanks for coming along with me through some of my favorite places in Oconee County! I hope you are able to give some of these a try. If you do, remember to use the hashtag #ThinkOconee so we can see all of the awesome adventures you are having. I’m also going to request that you tag us if you go to other places that aren’t in our posts. I don’t know about the rest of the crew, but I’m always looking for new places to have adventures and eat good food.  

Morgan Holcomb