Recent National Press Interest in Gullah-Geechee

Two national publications spread the word on the Gullah-Geechee and rice culture.

The magazine Essence published an article on “Honoring the Gullah-Geechee As Architects of a Well Seasoned South.” The drew upon chefs and scholars to highlight, among otehr valuable points, the role of rice in West African and Gullah cuisine.

The newspaper USA Today ran a piece that focused on the Joseph Fields, an organic farmer on John’s Island, as a way to explore the Gullha-Geechee past and present pressures of development on the islands. The article also interviews Queen Quet and Natalie Daise.


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Tomotley Rice Plantation Goes on Market

¬†Tomotley Plantation in the ACE Basin has gone on the real estate market with an asking price of ten million dollars. The plantation began as a King’s Grant 350 years ago.

In more recent times its exceptional Live Oak alley (there are two of them) appeared repeatedly in the Oscar winning film “Forest Gump.” The filming took place on that plantation, the town of Varnville, Fripp Island (as a stand in for Vietnam) and Savannah.

Having had the pleasure of visiting the plantation several times, I can say it is hard to exaggerate the iconic nature of the alley.


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Hurricanes, Florence and Evacuating the Rice Kingdom

With the approach of Hurricane Florence this week, many news outlets took note of the fact that frequently Gullah people do not evacuate.

Stories covering that topic can be found in:

The New York Times (disappointingly, they suggest St. Helena residents descend from persons enslaved to grow rice rather than sea island cotton. No doubt, Gullah people grew rice everywhere, but St. Helena focused on Sea Island Cotton)

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Russ Bynum wrote a similar piece run by the AP and appearing in many papers including: The Herald-Whig.


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Effort Afoot to Preserve Historic AME Church in Rice Kingdom

The Star News published a story highlighting efforts by the North Carolina Land Trust to preserve the historic Reaves Chapel AME church. The chapel dates to the 1880s in the Cape Fear Region known as Navassa. Navassa is a collection of five rice plantations.

The Land Trust is using its knowledge of land laws, its network of preservationist and its fund raising prowess to gain title to the defunct church and preserve it as part of Gullah-Geechee and rice culture history in the region. You can learn more about Navassa by reading a fine piece at Coastal Review Online.

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The Daise’s Career as Gullah Educators and Artists Continues

I have had the privileged of meeting Ron and Natalie Daise. They are consummate performers. To be that would be enough, but each has additional skills and callings. Natalie has become an artist of Lowcountry ad Gullah themed paintings. Ron is the educator in residence at Brookgreen Gardens.

Learn more about their careers to this point in a recent Post and Courier profile.


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Sandy Island, Gullah Culture and Rice Culture

The South Strand News covered the Friends of the Waccamaw Library’s program on Sandy Island in Georgetown County, SC. The wonderful historian Lee Brockington of Hobcaw Barony led the program.

If you don’t know much about Sandy Island the article, “Saving Sandy Island” offers a useful primer.

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Rice Connections in the African Diaspora

In December 2016, ethno-botanist and Trinidad native Francis Morean sponsored and organized the first Hill Rice Symposium on the island nation. This blog’s author had the privileged of being a presenter and participant. A number of distinguished persons representing different areas of work but with an overlapping interest in rice culture, the African diaspora, food history and the Gullah Geechee people. Those present inlcuded chef B. J. Dennis, Queen Quet of the Gullah Geechee Nation, Anthony Richardson and the famous food historian David Shields.

Dennis, Queen Quet, Dr. Richardson, Dr. Shields with rice planter in Moruga, T&T


While visiting the rice fields Shields and Dennis immediately wondered about the heritage and even species of (could it be glaberrima?) of the variety of rice use din hill rice? The story of much of this is told in the New York Times.

Severson is right that rice is a rabbit hole for food scholars (my friends can attest to that!).

Hill Rice Field nearing maturity, Dec. 2016


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Wedgefield Plantation Historical Sketch and Update

Wedgefield Plantation on the Black River at the outskirts of Georgetown went from rice to golf and houses quite a few years ago. The South Strand News offered a nice summary of the plantation’s history.


The Golf club’s site can be accessed at

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Hofwyl-Broadfield Rice Plantation Preserves and Interprets Rice Culture

The Brunswick News published two pieces recently about Hofwyl-Broadfield plantation on the Altamaha River in Glenn County, GA. The one-time rice plantation is now a Georgia state park that preserves and interprets rice culture and enslavement of over 300 persons for toady’s visitors.

Hofwyl-Broadfield produced rice as late as most any plantation in Georgia and all but a few in South Carolina, wrapping up commercial growth in 1917.

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Pipemaker’s Canal Remains Working Artifact of Rice Culture

The Pipemaker’s Canal runs through three cities, lastly Savannah, GA before pouring its collection into the Savannah River. The canal’s origins date the early national period when two rice magnates had it constructed to help with the water management of their rice plantations.¬† Given the era of its construction enslaved laborers likely did much or all of the work although I could not verify that with a cursory search.

Today it continues to serve Chatham County, Georgia by draining lands that grow houses and commercial centers. Current challenges with Pipemaker’s Canal and development pressures are covered in a recent article in SavannahNow.

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