Toogoodoo is a full-force family affair, involving grandparents, parents, and all six kids, with the family dogs even tagging along. “Other than a few family friends who help during Christmas, we do it all ourselves, with no hired workers,” says Julie, with a hint of dirt-under-her-fingernails pride. She and Martha, former Ashley Hall schoolmates, are now tractor mates. Julie, a certified Master Gardener, lends her expertise as the farm’s horticulturist, tending to the humidity-happy funguses that can threaten the indigenous cedars and pines.
While the kids get to drive the tractors and help mow, all of them pitch in with the annual tree planting (3,000 seedlings each January). The dads, meanwhile, do the tree-trimming, stump-grinding, and tractor repair. They’ll also help with mowing—as much as their non-agrarian professions permit, anyway. In real life, John, a physician, is director of Emergency Services at Roper Hospital, and Greg, a pilot, flies for UPS and is a retired General in the South Carolina National Guard/Air Force Reserves.
And come late November, before the Walters’ Thanksgiving leftovers are even put away, all hands are on deck to help create the down-home (or down-farm) Toogoodoo spirit that loyal customers near and far equate with Christmas. Neil, an 8th grader at Charleston day steps up as the conductor of the Toogoodoo Choo-Choo, taking families for a tour of the property.
The third generation of Walters farmers, ages 13 to 20, take a break from their academic schedules, and various sports, to escort customers through the fields or take turns as the voice of Toogie. “I ask the little kids to feed me sticks, and they love it,” says 18-year-old Lizzy, Greg and Julie’s middle child.
We hope that at Toogoodoo, you feel like more than a customer, but a part of our family.