If, like many of us, you love a swamp, then Cypress Gardens should be on your agenda. They have a Swamparium!
The one-time Dean Hall rice plantation has been a park for decades. A massive flood in 2015 enveloped the park while rehabilitation timetables repeatedly faltered as a result of the hurricanes that battered the Rice Kingdom in 2010s.
Finally, they are reopened with some improvements on top of the repairs.
In 2016, the venerable magazine of building design, Architectural Digest ran a piece on the enigmatic style of Mulberry Plantation. I missed that for the blog at the time. But the piece is now available online. The emphasis in on the current owners — what one might dub the third generation of Wall Street Planters — to make it into a comfortable home without altering much of the historic architectural qualities of the main house.
It is all too easy to find fault and I do not do it for the sake of faulty-finding, hopefully, but the piece blithely ignores African American experience and slavery or much mention of rice.
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.
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.
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)
Russ Bynum wrote a similar piece run by the AP and appearing in many papers including: The Herald-Whig.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 Wedgefieldcountryclub.com.