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NC Rice Festival

Posted on February 27, 2022 by Dr. Tuten

Rice culture in North Carolina centered on Brunswick County in the southeast corner of the Tarheel State. In recent years greater local people put forth greater effort to educate people about rice culture and Gullah Geechee culture in the area. This year’s Rice Festival from March 4-5 will expand on those efforts.

The Future of Hasty Point Plantation

Posted on December 7, 2021 by Dr. Tuten

Hasty Point Plantation, a Pee Dee River property with a history of rice growing and enslavement dating back to the Colonial era, will become a public recreation area in the future. The Coastal Observer provides coverage of past, current and future goals for the land.

How to Write About Historic Plantations

Posted on October 24, 2021 by Dr. Tuten

In my previous post I mentioned that an online conversation among Twitterstorians had covered the subject of how media cover the sale of historic plantations. While the conversation covers plantations of many locations or based in cotton or sugar, the emphasis of late tied to the sales of rice plantations in the lowcountry.

This week, a trio of historians penned an Opinion piece for the Washington Post addressing the subject with cogency. Please see the clearly titled Op/Ed here: Portraying plantations as luxury real estate downplays the legacy of slavery.

Plantation Tourism in the Lowcountry Evolves

Posted on October 3, 2021 by Dr. Tuten

The ongoing reckoning with the history of racial oppression, especially the history of enslavement, is quickening among the Lowcountry’s tourist plantations. This week, the Washington Post brought a new piece examining this process and its most recent changes.

N.B. Among historians of the Lowcountry, the recent coverage by the Post & Courier of plantations as historical real estate and architecture, while ignoring how the properties got built, has created a Twitter thread or three.

Recalling “The Weeping Time”

Posted on May 9, 2021 by Dr. Tuten

The Savannah Morning News published an account recalling the tragic and terrible mass sale of 429 enslaved people in 1859. The sale, labeled “The Weeping Time” by African Americans, it is remembered as the largest auction of humans in the history of Georgia. Pierce Butler, a rice planter of great wealth, sold them and in the process shattered families with members of all ages.
The event and memory of it is the subject of an excellent book by Anne C. Bailey, The Weeping Time: Memory and the Largest Slave Auction in American History (2017).

The Word Plantation and Its Implications

Posted on July 11, 2020 by Dr. Tuten

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd the structural and persistent aspects of racism are being called out. A secondary, but still important feature of Americans’ reevaluation of images, symbols, and language, and the racist interpretations they denote and connote. The term plantation is under interrogation from Barbados to Rhode Island for these reasons.

Early credit is due to two young journalists, Katherine Kokal and Lucas Smolcic Larson at the Island Packet for being first out on this story.

Since then the Washington Post and New York Times (which also looked at the town of Plantation, FL) have followed their trail into the story.

Plantation is a complicated idea. It ranges from the use as applied to Rhode Island to what can be described as slave labor camps, as one historian put it. Since 1865 the term’s meaning has certainly migrated in the South from a land with a large enslaved population or community to mean anything from an estate that historically bore the name plantation to modern resort community. The future of the term is very much in question for those places that are not using the name as a continuation of a place name.

Hasty Point Rice Plantation Becomes Part of Waccamaw NWR

Posted on June 2, 2020 by Dr. Tuten

One of the less appreciated legacies of rice culture and the fact that many plantations remained undeveloped and fairly intact, is their role in establishing a wildlife refuge space today and into the future.
Hasty Point Plantation on the Pee Dee River in Georgetown, County, will become part of the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge after the US government purchases it. The State Paper in Columbia reported on this as well as The Sun News in Myrtle Beach.
The addition of the 772 acre rice plantation to the NWR, will change public access from boats to automobile and open it to foot traffic. For that reason, this becomes much more than expanding the refuge by a few percent. Managers of the refuge picture Hast Point as the public entrance to Waccamaw NWR a 34,000 acre zone on the Pee Dee and Waccamaw Rivers of historic places along with landscapes of animal and plant diversity.

Tomotley Plantation Sell for Nearly 8 Million

Posted on May 9, 2020 by Dr. Tuten

Tomotley Plantation, an ACE Basin property deeded by the crown in the late 17th Century served as a working rice plantation for generations. Over that time hundreds of enslaved people worked and lived there.
Like most ACE Basin rice plantation, in twentieth century Tomotley has been a home and hunting preserve. In 1990 the Mixon family, natives to the ACE Basin region, purchased the property and retained it until this sale. Portions are in conservation easement as part of the ACE Basin initiatives.
The early Nineteenth century live oak allée is legendary and much photographed.
The plantation sold recently for $7.8 million after several years on the real estate market.

Hash – a Rice Kingdom Product

Posted on March 13, 2020 by Dr. Tuten

I have to confess to an abiding passion for hash on rice. Hannah Raskin produced a nice study of the current state of hash offerings in South Carolina. She also gives a tidy history of hash too.

Lonnie Bunch’s Visit to Friendfield Plantation

Posted on October 6, 2019 by Dr. Tuten

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the acclaimed visionary and first director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, now Secretary of the Smithsonian, brings some rice culture into his new book. In an account excerpted at WCBI, he tells of a trip to Friendfield Plantation in Georgetown County. His story focuses on Princy Jenkins who managed the estate and descended from people enslaved there. Read it here, of find a copy of Bunch’s book.

Building the Rice Kingdom and the Reparations Debate

Posted on August 24, 2019 by Dr. Tuten

The LA Times ran a thoughtful and lengthy piece this week on the reparations debate with their focus on Charleston and the Rice Kingdom. They quote important rice culture historians Professor David Littlefield, Vinnie Deas Moore, Zenobia Harper, and Richard Porcher.

It is rare for rice culture and the enslaved performed all the labor to get such detailed attention in a national newspaper.

Hurricane Towers in the Rice Kingdom

Posted on July 25, 2019 by Dr. Tuten

The Georgetown Times offers a feature on local history produced by the Georgetown County Museum. The series is called “Museum Around the Corner” and does a nice job of making readers aware of local features of the past. The most recent essay related the story of Storm Towers or Hurricane Towers in the Rice Kingdom.

After a particularly deadly 1822 storm, plantations in the Waccamaw and Santee zone added raised, brick-built towers for enslaved people to shelter in during hurricanes.

Remnants of towers survive to this day. For more see books by David Doar and Richard Porcher.

Cypress Gardens Open Again

Posted on April 21, 2019 by Dr. Tuten

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.

Architectural Digest Visits Mulberry Plantation

Posted on April 1, 2019 by Dr. Tuten

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.

Recent National Press Interest in Gullah-Geechee

Posted on February 20, 2019 by Dr. Tuten

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 Rice Plantation Goes on Market

Posted on October 14, 2018 by Dr. Tuten

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.

Hurricanes, Florence and Evacuating the Rice Kingdom

Posted on September 15, 2018 by Dr. Tuten

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.

Effort Afoot to Preserve Historic AME Church in Rice Kingdom

Posted on August 15, 2018 by Dr. Tuten

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.

The Daise’s Career as Gullah Educators and Artists Continues

Posted on July 28, 2018 by Dr. Tuten

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.

Sandy Island, Gullah Culture and Rice Culture

Posted on April 21, 2018 by Dr. Tuten

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.

Rice Connections in the African Diaspora

Posted on February 17, 2018 by Dr. Tuten

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.

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!).

Wedgefield Plantation Historical Sketch and Update

Posted on January 20, 2018 by Dr. Tuten

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

Hofwyl-Broadfield Rice Plantation Preserves and Interprets Rice Culture

Posted on October 21, 2017 by Dr. Tuten

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.

Pipemaker’s Canal Remains Working Artifact of Rice Culture

Posted on August 19, 2017 by Dr. Tuten

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.

Update on Rice Cultivation at Orton Plantation

Posted on July 9, 2017 by Dr. Tuten

The famous Orton Plantation (about which I’ve blogged I number of times) appeared in the News and Observer this week. Orton is owned by a billionaire with ancestral ties to the plantation. He is interested in growing rice there but not concerned with turning a profit or even breaking even. They are also in it for the long-haul which is what it will take according to the article.

The New ‘Green Book’ for South Carolina

Posted on July 1, 2017 by Dr. Tuten

The original Negro Travelers’ Green Book form 1936 served as a travel guide for African Americans navigating the Jim Crow South. The South Carolina African American Heritage Commission has created a new, Green Book of South Carolina, appropriately updated to work well on a smart phone. For we Rice Kingdom fixated, the map aspect highlights the historic place of rice in South Carolina from plantations, to churches, post-emancipation schools and the raid on Combahee Ferry.

Hat tip to Paste for writing a nice rice-centric piece on the SC Green Book which helped draw my attention.

Requiem for Rice in the news

Posted on June 7, 2017 by Dr. Tuten

The artist Jonathan Green along with Edda Fields-Black, a well-known scholar of Atlantic rice culture, are making progress toward the “Requiem for Rice.” The Post and Courier ran a thorough introduction to this ambitious, and assuredly powerful musical piece that will debut in Charleston in the fall.

More Housing on Rice Plantations

Posted on May 21, 2017 by Dr. Tuten

For much of the post World War II period rice plantations around Charleston have been converted from agricultural to suburban developments. In fact, it’s impossible to imagine present-day Charleston along the Cooper and East Cooper areas without that re-development process. Recent news shows the suburbanization and creation of high-end real estate continues and, in addition to proximity to river frontage, an aspect of the appeal is living on historic plantations. In other words, the Plantation Mystique is alive and well.

In Charleston along the Ashley River a developer has moved to develop part of Ashley Hall Plantation.

On the Waccamaw Neck new lots are being made available on Waverly Plantation.

The Rice Kingdom and Trinidad’s Merikans

Posted on May 14, 2017 by Dr. Tuten

Last December I had the great pleasure of taking part in the inaugural Hill Rice Symposium in Trinidad that Francis Morean organized. The occasion also marked the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the Merikans to Trinidad.

David Shields, the preeminent scholar of heirloom rice varieties (and Lowcountry food history generally), Chef J Dennis, and Queen Quet of the Gullah/Geechee Nation all represented South Carolina at the event. Adding in farmers, scholars and archivists from Trinidad and Dr. Tony Richards of Antigua, the conferees shared much with each other.

Jill Neimark wrote a fine account of the Merikans, red bearded rice and renewed connections of food and culture in the African Diaspora for The Salt. Red bearded rice is thought to be the descendant of native West African rice otherwise known as Oryza glaberrima. David Shields penned a more detailed account of this in The Carolina Gold Rice Foundation’s site.

The Requiem for Rice Getting Attention

Posted on March 9, 2017 by Dr. Tuten

For many months several distinguished figures interested in expanding the public’s understanding about Lowcountry rice culture, Dr. Edda Fields-Black and artist Jonathan Green have been planning, creating and recruiting to make the “Requiem for Rice” a reality. The completed composition combining the libretto by Fields-Black and original score by Trevor Weston will be performed in Charleston in October 2017. The Charleston Post and Courier recently gave it extensive coverage.

A History of “Ashley’s Sack”: An Artifact of Rice Kingdom Slavery

Posted on January 1, 2017 by Dr. Tuten

Among the most evocative and unique items in the new National Museum of African American History and Culture is a textile dubbed “Ashley’s Sack.” Historian Mark Auslander recently published an account of the likely provenance and history of the sack. You can read it at Southern Spaces. Auslander goes on to explore the emergence and evolution of the interpretation of slavery at historic sites such as Middleton Place – one of the most prominent rice plantations in the Rice Kingdom and among the most visited public history sites there today.

Geechee Recognition in Florida

Posted on December 22, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

The Gullah/Geechees in the northeast corner of Florida get much less attention than those in Georgia and South Carolina. This piece from St. Augustine shows that the Gullah-Geechee Corridor is having an effect there too. Wherever Geechee are you also get the commonality of rice, as interviewee Edith Harris says here: “We would say, ‘Oh he’s a Geechee, or she’s a Geechee,’” she said, laughing. “And, ‘My don’t they like rice.’”

Slavery, Public Memory, Education and the Rice Kingdom

Posted on November 20, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

No aspect of the Rice Kingdom’s past is more fraught now than gaining a proper understanding of what Lowcountry slavery was like in scope and texture. We can’t truly know it, but we can come much closer than we have. Formal education is one place that this must take place but for many who are past classroom days museums, tours, and as array of media forms must do this job. For that to happen those who exhibit, write, speak, and shape institutions have to be committed to reckoning with the past.

DNA Analysis Shows Some American Rice Varieties Originate in Africa

Posted on October 8, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

Historical amnesia is powerful. For two hundred years or more, white rice planters in the Rice Kingdom denied that Africans contributed any thing but brute labor to rice culture. Thanks to scholars from many disciplines that amnesia has been replaced with knowledge of many contributions. The latest is DNA work that shows that a rice variety used in Suriname today is an African (Oryza glaberrima) variety.

Rice Culture in the National Museum of African American History & Culture

Posted on September 22, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

Appropriately for the new National Museum of African American History and Culture the rice kingdom is well represented. Several objects from rice plantations are featured including a full slave cabin from Edisto Island. Among the most poignant is the famous, but not nearly famous enough, memento dubbed “Ashley’s Sack” for a daughter who was sold away from Middleton Place. Read more about these and other SC items in the museum. Better still, make a visit to the museum which opens this weekend.

Mid-century Film of Rice Practices Discovered

Posted on July 28, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

Hannah Raskin revealed in the Post and Courier that a home movie demonstrating a range of rice culture practices has been discovered. The film dates from 1941 and took place on the Edisto River plantation called Willtown Bluff.

Gold Rice in the Press

Posted on April 24, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

Rodale’s Organic Gardening did their part to educate their readership about Carolina gold Rice!

Harriet Tubman in the Rice Kingdom

Posted on April 24, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

I remember reading a short biography of Harriet Tubman in middle school. She amazed me and was the first person I read about who fought against slavery.

This week’s announcement that Tubman will grace the $20 bill in four years is a milestone. It should lead to a much greater knowledge of her remarkable life. Her bravery and commitment to the cause of freedom was the equal of anyone’s. It takes a special quality to go undercover as she did many times. No mission yielded more spectacular results than the one that resulted in a slave-freeing raid on the Combahee rice plantation in 1863. National Geographic has a nice piece on that event.

Today, the bridge of US Highway 17 that crosses the Combahee is named Harriet Tubman Bridge.

BBC on Gold Rice

Posted on April 9, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

he BBC Travel staff ran a story on Carolina Gold Rice, Charleston, the food scene and such.

Conserving Rice and Gullah Heirtage Together

Posted on March 20, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is supporting efforts by the NC Land Trust and the town of Navassa, a small (est 1500), but growing town in the Rice Kingdom to preserve elements of Gullah history and culture. This grant is to move the town and organization in the direction of protecting historic rice culture land and to investigate the prospects for a Gullah cultural institute in North Carolina. It seems clear that exciting momentum is building on many fronts as a result of the Gullah Geechee Corridor.

Column Considers Gullah Names from the Rice Kingdom

Posted on February 21, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

Columnist Farooq Kperogi at All Africa reflects on naming among the Gullah as recorded in Lorenzo Dow Turner in the 1930s. Kperogi’s piece is interesting for several reasons including his comparison to recent or current names in different West African languages.

Sportsman Plantation Tours Include Arcadia

Posted on January 23, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

The Coastal Observer offers a nicely detailed story with background on both the land and post-rice culture owners of a number of Waccamaw Neck plantations. The story focuses on the Arcadia Plantation which will be toured as part of a series of tours focusing on rice plantations as places for field sports especially waterfowl hunting. Future tours will be in the other sub-regions of rice culture in South Carolina, the Pee Dee, Santee and ACE Basin.

Altama Plantation near Darien, GA becomes State Wildlife Preserve

Posted on January 1, 2016 by Dr. Tuten

Altama Plantation, a historic and well documented rice plantation of some 4,000 acres is now owned by the state of Georgia. See a lengthy and illustrated story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution for more.

The purchase is largely for environmental conservation but the plantation has considerable historic meaning too. James Bagwell wrote Rice Gold: James Hamilton Couper and Plantation Life on the Georgia Coast about the antebellum owner of the plantation.

Parker Reports on Slavery at Lowcountry Sites

Posted on December 16, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

Adam Parker had a great piece reviewing the changes and improvement to the depth and breadth of slavery interpretation at Rice Kingdom historic sites.

The Real Estate Market for Antebellum and Civil War Battle site Homes

Posted on July 25, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

The Wall Street Journal published a piece on the market and for homes near Civil War battlefields or antebellum houses. The featured antebellum house is Chicora Wood plantation. The Allston family used Chicora Wood as it’s premier rice plantation among a collection of Waccamaw-Pee Dee area lands they owned. R.F.W. Alston, owner of Chicora Wood and hundreds of slaves, served as a governor of South Carolina. His daughter Elizabeth A. W. Pringle inherited the plantation and later wrote two books about Postbellum rice planting there.

Middleburg Plantation Changes Hands

Posted on June 9, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

What is rice plantation worth these days? It’s not so easy a question to answer given all the variables in play. How many acres? Is there an existing house or other structures? What types of easements might exist? Is it convenient to airports, highways, etc.?

Middleburg Plantation in Berkeley County, SC just sold and it gives a pretty good hint at current pricing. The acreage is not large – 326 – yet the property fetched $3,500,000. It is fairly convenient to Charleston (airports, Interstate, city upsides), but it is a pretty rare plantation in that its original house from 1697.

For the record the new owner made his money by founding the Moe’s Southwest Grill chain and the Planet Smoothie chain.

Artist Jonathan Green Continues to Educate and Inspire

Posted on June 5, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

Jonathan Green received a nice treatment in the Charleston City Paper in which they highlighted his many current projects tied to educating people about the Rice Kingdom. In addition to being the founder and leader of the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project, he is renowned for his art work, public speaking appearances, illustrating a kid’s book on Robert Smalls and designing sets for a revival of Porgy and Bess.

General Anthony Wayne – Failed Rice Planter

Posted on May 30, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

General Anthony Wayne is best-known as a successful Revolutionary War officer from Pennsylvania. His successes in that war earned him the gift of two rice plantations from the Georgia legislature. Richmond and Kew plantation had been confiscated from Loyalists and they required investment and slaves. Wayne attempted it but in the early 1790s deeded the lands and slaves back to his creditors.

The Slave Dwelling Project Comes to Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation

Posted on May 24, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

Joe McGill, the intrepid and inspired person behind the Slave Dwelling Project has been traveling from state-to-state for years now in order to stay in slave houses that remain standing. His next over-night will be at Hofwyl-Broadfield rice plantation near Brunswick, Georgia. The plantation was a major one in the southern-most corner of that state and the southern-most corner of the Rice Kingdom.

Archeology of Rice Culture in Cape Fear Region

Posted on May 3, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

A nice article appeared this week on archeological work being conducted by the Chicora Foundation at Kendal Plantation. They believe it is the first permanent English site in the Cape Fear area.

When Freedom Came to Limerick Plantation

Posted on March 15, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

The author Ed Ball wrote an essay in the New York Times to commemorate and muse over the memory of the Sesquicentennial of emancipation on his family’s rice plantation, Limerick.

Hampton Plantation Excavation Project

Posted on March 10, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

Excavation efforts to reveal more about the lives of slaves on Hampton Plantation have resumed. The multi-year archeological effort has focused in the slave village of the state park. Hampton is famous in part due to the writings of Archibald Rutledge who lived on it after the end of rice culture.

Laurel Hill Plantation: From Rice to Recreation

Posted on February 14, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

Recently Laurel Hill Plantation in Mt. Pleasant became open to the public with multi-use recreational trails. The plantation is among the oldest in the state and has included a brick yard, rice culture and cotton production. The Park system of Charleston County has a twenty-five year lease to operate it with options beyond that.

Plum Hill on the Combahee Profiled in the WSJ

Posted on January 10, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

The Wall Street Journal ran a substantial and well illustrated piece on Plum Hill Plantation. Plum Hill had been through many iterations over time but in the antebellum era period had been among the Heyward family rice plantations. in the 1990s a number of scenes for “Forrest Gump” took place on the land as a stand in for Alabama. Like most ACE Basin plantations today, the family uses it as a hunting preserve.

Considering Emancipation in the Rice Kingdom – 150 Years Ago

Posted on January 3, 2015 by Dr. Tuten

The Sesquicentennial of the Civil War has brought about a good deal of re-thinking and remembering much of the military history of the conflict, but surprisingly modest amounts of attention to the events of those years in Rice Kingdom. Fortunately, Time recently gave space to thinking about the actual arrival of emancipation of the rice kingdom in late 1864 and 1865.

Rice Beds -Important Material Culture of Rice

Posted on November 9, 2014 by Dr. Tuten

The Post and Courier of Charleston recently ran a story about a circa 1790 rice bed that sold at auction for $45,000.

Rice Beds are poster beds mainly from the colonial era. They were built locally in the Rice Kingdom and are distinguished by having a sheave of rice carved into the posts. Most were made of mahogany wood.

North Carolina Rice Culture on the Radio

Posted on October 25, 2014 by Dr. Tuten

North Carolina public radio’s eastern arm produced a fine synopsis of the rice culture in the state recently. You can listen or read the content complete with illustrations.

Wilmington Area to Host Rice Festival

Posted on September 13, 2014 by Dr. Tuten

Wilmington and Brunswick County, NC are planning to start a North Carolina Rice Festival to point up the long history of rice culture on the Cape Fear River. The article also gives an update on efforts at Orton Plantation to join the ranks of old rice fields once again producing Carolina Gold and other heirloom rice strands.

Rice Growing In the Grand Strand

Posted on January 6, 2014 by Dr. Tuten

Although it escaped my attention last fall, the Weekly Surge, the free weekly out of Myrtle Beach, ran a none of the best pieces in recent years on the “rice-growing renaissance” taking place in that South Carolina.

Rice Growing in Maryland and the SRI Approach

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Dr. Tuten

Tim Carman of The Washington Post wrote a piece on Heinz Thomet, a Maryland truck crop farmer who is experimenting with rice. Thomet has tried several varieties including Carolina Gold and is also using the SRI method of rice production.

Goodwill Plantation – a midlands rice property – at a contingent moment

Posted on November 10, 2013 by Dr. Tuten

Goodwill Plantation in Richland County once grew rice using the inland impoundment methods. Now, a gold mining company wants to buy the plantation and give it the state of South Carolina as a public nature preserve in consideration of Federal approval of the mines environmental impact. Read more about in The State.

Artist Jonathan Green Paints and Teaches about the Rice Kingdom

Posted on August 31, 2013 by Dr. Tuten

Lowcountry native Jonathan Green has achieved loyal following during his still thriving career as a painter. Recently he has launched a new venture – The Lowcountry Rice Project – with the cooperation of a number of scholars, agriculturalists, and other friends. Two upcoming events help to draw attention to his efforts: a new exhibit of his work at the Avery Institute at the College of Charleston and a conference this September. The AP recently covered these developments as seen in the Miami Herald.

Garden & Gun Profiles Rice Advocates

Posted on August 10, 2013 by Dr. Tuten

Recently Garden & Gun ran a profile of Professor David Shields and Glen Roberts. The piece has now been made available online. If you do not know of them, they have both been closely associated with efforts to resuscitate the growing and eating of Carolina Gold Rice. Shields is a scholar at the University of South Carolina. Roberts runs Anson Mills in Columbia which specializes in milling and packaging heirloom grains. Together they work to bring back into wider cultivation a host of heirloom foods. Read more at G&G.

Gullah Corridor As Tourist Destination

Posted on June 30, 2013 by Dr. Tuten

The Salem Gazette (MA) ran a substantial story on the Gullah – Geechee Corridor and its ties to rice culture recently. The piece gives a nice primer on the recent history of the Corridor.

Life on Today’s Residential Rice Plantations

Posted on May 16, 2013 by Dr. Tuten

The Coastal Observer (Pawley’s Island, SC) recently published a profile of a Wachesaw Plantation resident who has taken a keen interest in rice kingdom history. The story offers some nice bites of history of Wachesaw and Richmond Hill plantations on Waccamaw Neck.

Gullah-Geechee Corridor in AJC

Posted on May 5, 2013 by Dr. Tuten

The Atlanta Journal Constitution spread the word on the Gullah-Geechee Corridor complete with a nod to rice culture in a recent edition. They focused on the presentation of Gullah culture and slave life on Boone Hall Plantation for what was really a travel piece.

Archaelogists Conintuing Dig at Hampton Rice Plantation

Posted on March 10, 2013 by Dr. Tuten

Since 2010 state archaeologists have been working with the help of many volunteers to learn more about the lives of the slaves on the state-owned property. Hampton is famous, in part because Archibald Rutledge, South Carolina’s first poet laureate, made it his home in the early twentieth century. He wrote several of his books about living and hunting there. This turns the attention to majority of occupants of the plantation through its rice growing years.

The associated press ran a piece on this which has appeared in several papers such as linked above and a shorter version appeared the Charlotte Observer.

Orton Plantation Gets Permits for Rice Field Restoration Work

Posted on December 15, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC) recently updated the developments on Orton Plantation on the Cape Fear River.

The Biodiversity of the Rice Fields

Posted on November 25, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

The Post & Courier ran a substantial story about a young researcher who has carved out a niche for herself by focusing on rice field fauna.

The author, Bo Peterson, frequently writes on the Lowcountry environment.

Twentieth Anniversary of Hoppin’ John’s Seminal Cookbook Getting Noticed

Posted on September 23, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

Twenty years ago John Taylor (or Hoppin’ John) published his well-researched Hoppin’ John’s Lowcountry Cooking. an anniversary edition has been released and many media sources are paying attention to Taylor’s accomplishment in researching Lowcountry recipes. Among the best are a recent story in The State.

Army Corps Establishes New Permit Process for Rice Fields

Posted on September 2, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

Rice plantation owners, managers, and consultants celebrated last week.

With the advent of coastal and wetland protections in the late twentieth century –managed by the Coastal Council and the US Army Corps of Engineers among other entities– it became more and more difficult to get permits to repair old rice plantation dikes. Since the eighteenth century hurricanes, fresh water flooding, erosion, even wildfire can result in emergency repairs to a plantation’s canal and earthworks systems. The regulatory work grinds slowly and was not well-adapted to emergency cases.

A few years back Nemours Plantation, named for the DuPont family’s French home, hosted all the interested parties. Among the leaders of the summit were the professionals at Folk Land Management in nearby White Hall. The US Army Corps came away convinced that a leaner emergency permit process was needed. The issuance of that policy and document led to the celebration last week.

Update on Orton Rice Plantation

Posted on August 6, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

Several news outlets, most notably the Charlotte Observer, have published reports on the work taking place on Orton Plantation on the Cape Fear River of North Carolina. Several years ago a Hedge-fund manager with historic family ties to the plantation purchases Orton. He subsequently closed it to the public and has embarked an extensive project of restoration to forests and rice fields.

It appears that re-starting some tidal rice cultivation may be part of the dream for Orton.

Rice and Barbecue: Let’s Hash it Out

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

Having recently dined on Rice kingdom barbecue at Hog Heaven (Pawley’s Island, SC) and Dukes (Walterboro, SC) I was mulling over the hot goodness that is hash.

Savannah-Ogeechee Canal History and Preservation

Posted on June 2, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

The Savannah Morning News published a piece this week on the current efforts to preserve and restore part of the Savannah-Ogeechee Rivers Canal. The Canal connected the two rivers during the peak period of rice commerce and it allowed rice and other commodities to be towed to Savannah for sale and re-shipment on the international market. They used rice flats for that work much of the time. Flats were floating workhorses of the rice kingdom.

These intrepid volunteers have been working to preserve that history for twenty years

Knock-off Imported Sweetgrass Baskets

Posted on May 27, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

Sweetgrass baskets are a Gullah craft in the Rice Kingdom. Africans brought as slaves adapted their weaving techniques to new flora and new circumstances and the craft has become widely appreciated in the last fifty years. So much so, in fact, that imitators have contacted to have knock-off version made in the Pacific rim and imported.

White Oak Plantation’s Sale Featured in Wall Street Journal

Posted on April 8, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

The Wall Street Journal has a slide show that gives a peak inside White Oak Plantation (GA) and its twentieth century estate. The former rice plantation has a dance studio built to Baryshnikov criteria, African animals on the preserve and other expensive accoutrements.

Reuters Covers Current Real Estate Market in Rice Kingdom Plantations

Posted on March 3, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

Reuters ran a piece today on the prices and history of owning Rice Kingdom plantations in the past century.

AP Story on Magnolia Plantation’s Camelia Project

Posted on February 18, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

The AP ran a wire story this week that appeared many places ranging from the Washington Post to my small town’s paper in Pennsylvania. Magnolia, a one-time rice plantation near Charleston, became a garden decades ago. They are now trying to have the most comprehensive collection of ancient camellias in the world.

The Cooking Gene Learns and Educates on Rice Kingdom Foodways

Posted on February 12, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

Michael Twitty’s project The Cooking Gene is already getting notice. This week his Southern Discomfort tour received attention from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Twitty takes all manner of African culinary influences on Southern and American cuisine, not the least of which is rice and culinary fusions that took place in the Rice Kingdom.

Thomas Lynch, rice planter and Founding Father

Posted on February 12, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

This interesting op-ed comes from the Myrtle Beach newspaper, The Sun News. Thomas Lynch, Sr. was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. Lynch planted rice in Berkley District and served as a South Carolina Delegate to the Continental Congress. The South Carolina delegation leaned heavily on rice planters.

Rice Kingdom’s Black History on By Water Tours

Posted on February 5, 2012 by Dr. Tuten

This article with video from Connect Savannah reports on the inaugural Black History tour with By Water Tours. The new outfit concentrates on the African American history of Savannah and the neighboring riverine area of rice and cotton plantations.

New Years is the season for Hoppin John

Posted on December 29, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

Every year the approach of New Years Day brings a host of pieces on the Rice Kingdom’s most famous export: Hoppin’ John.

The New York Times has a substantial piece that goes beyond that dish and cover the farm to table efforts in South Carolina. It covers the usual suspects in the movement (Sean Brock, Glenn Roberts, and Emile DeFelice) but also less famous folks such as Edisto Mills’ Greg Johnsman and chef Jacques Larson of Johns Island.

The Washington Post covered Hoppin’ John specifically a day earlier and interviewed food historian Hoppin’ John Martin Taylor.

Both pieces have been syndicated.

From these and other pieces on Hoppin’ John you would see that the black-eyed pea is considered the staple legume for many, but is also disdained by traditionalists. First off, the black-eyed pea is not the same as a cow pea, as reported in this story on Hoppin’ John and the Geechee Girl Rice Cafe in Philly. The cow pea is smaller and, in my view, a more interesting tasting item. It is also more traditionally the legume for Hoppin’ John.

Cow peas are hard to find. In fact, I find that northern cuisine, at least as judged by ingredients one can by in middle and high-end groceries has a paucity of legumes. However, I’ve had pretty good luck growing several varieties of cow peas (and butter peas and butter beans) in Pennsylvania. Maybe that’s because eating my Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day each year made the luck roll in.

An Update on the Regulation of Rice Fields Today

Posted on November 14, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

In recent years the regulatory authorities overseeing wetlands in the Rice Kingdom all but shut down permitting for maintenance of dikes, canals and trunks. Plantation owners and contractors who work on permitting and re-construction of the rice impoundments system met with regulators and began working out the “Rice Fields Accord.” The accord is now under public comment.

Joe Frazier, Boxer from the Rice Kingdom dies from Cancer

Posted on November 9, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

Smoking Joe Frazier hailed from Beaufort County, South Carolina in the heart of the Rice Kingdom. After he became the heavy-weight champion he brought Brewton Plantation, a former rice plantation just south of Yemassee. Frazier renamed it Golden Gloves Plantation. There is some complexity in Frazier’s decision to buy a plantation which represented having arrived or, as I have put it, appealing to the Plantation Mystique. On the other hand, as black man who bristled at Ali’s taunts of being an Uncle Tom, associating with a plantation seems an odd thing to do. By all accounts he enjoyed the farming life though.

English Descendant of Plantation Elite Invesitages Lowcountry Roots

Posted on November 5, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

The Island Packet (Hilton Head, SC) published a solid piece this week about a retired school teacher from England who is descended from the Drayton family of famous rice planters. It sounds as though he is fully aware of the combination of the history of slavery, war, and rice planting that are tied up within his lineage.

Endangered Snail: The Madnificent Ramshorn Once Native to Rice Plantations

Posted on November 5, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

This item on the magnificent ramshorn snail mentions that at one time they thrived in rice plantation mill ponds. The future of this snail may also be back on rice plantations in North Carolina. There may be no living populations in the wild. Personally, knowing the vast acreages of rice plantations and the difficulty of combing them it strikes me some may be out there. Let’s hope so.

Rice and Butter Beans

Posted on October 22, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

This piece on the glorious butter bean only makes a brief mention of the legume’s association with Carolina Rice Kitchens, but it is enough -along with my deep love of butter beans – to justify posting the link.

Charleston Gold is a new hybrid of Carolina Gold

Posted on October 15, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

In the last twenty years a number of interested individuals have revived rice growing and Carolina Gold – the most esteemed variety of rice grown in the Rice Kingdom. Recently, Merle Shepard of Clemson’s Coastal Research Center worked with plant breeders at the renown International Rice Research Institute in the Philippines to develop the more hardy hybrid.

Beethoven Visited the Rice Kingdom

Posted on October 15, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

In what can only be described as something of a surprise to us, Michael Broyles points out in his new book Beethoven in America, that the composer’s appreciation began in Charleston. Broyles gives some nice context on Charleston in 1805 including attention to rice culture. The first chapter of his book which concerns Charleston is at Pop Matters.

A New Exhibit on Gullah-Geechee History, Culture and Language

Posted on October 9, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

South Carolina State is running an exhibit titled: “From Africa to Gullah II: Word, Shout, Song: Lorenzo Dow Turner Connecting Communities through Language. Artist Jonathan Green spoke at the opening.

Sweatgrass Basket Weaving Receiving Attention in New York

Posted on September 17, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

This is a nice overview piece about the art of sweetgrass basketry through a show at SUNY Fredonia in New York state.

Rice Plantations turned formal sculpture garden turns 80

Posted on September 3, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

The Sun News of Myrtle has a nice piece here giving a succinct history of Brookgreen Gardens, now in its 80th year as a gardens. Before the Huntington’s made Brookgreen into the outdoor art museum and gardens it is today, the 9,000 acres were all Waccamaw Neck rice plantations.

Christian Science Monitor on Efforts to Restore Bunce Island

Posted on August 8, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

Bunce Island off present day Sierra Leone served as one of the major slave exporting depots in West Africa. Many of those taken from Bunce Island came through Charleston Harbor, the Ellis Island of enslaved Africans in America. Today efforts are underway to preserve this as an internationally important historic site and lowcountry folks have been very involved in this effort.

Erosion is a Big Problem for Rice Plantation Historic Sites

Posted on August 2, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

The natural work of the tides has always been vital to the location and work of of Rice Kingdom plantations. This piece covers the threat that unchecked erosion poses to these historic sites today.

Story on Yemassee also Talks about Old Combahee Plantation

Posted on July 17, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

The Post and Courier published this fine piece on Yemassee. In it the writer interviews Jessica Loring who inherited Old Combahee rice plantation.

An Update on Orton Rice Plantation in North Carolina

Posted on June 18, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

Orton Plantation has been purchased by a hedge fund manager who descends from the tract’s original owners. He is investing in a rehabilitation of the buildings and grounds of the 5000 acre plantation. The new owners are also re-orienting the timberland to long leaf pine as part of the restoration of that habitat which was once very common on the upland acreage of rice plantations.

Scandanvian Couple Restore Tower Hill Plantation

Posted on June 11, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

This piece from the Post and Courier describes Tower Hill plantation (less than 30 acres today) which has gone through the usual progression of owners. That is, the land went from being owned by rice planters for several hundred years to being a hunting club. For the past four years a Scandinavian couple has been restoring the 1930s plantation house and grounds.

Anacostia Museum Opens Gullah-Geechee Exhibit

Posted on June 1, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

This item from the Voice of America covers an exhibit on Gullah-Geechee history and culture at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum.

Cape Fear Rice Plantation is Farmer’s Market Today

Posted on May 16, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

The Poplar Grove rice plantation in North Carolina is an active farmer’s market on Wednesdays.

USA Today Story on Gullah-Geechee Corridor

Posted on April 24, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

This story on the Gullah-Geechee Corridor gives the Rice kingdom and its cultural heritage some national exposure. Be sure to see the attached video from the online version.

Post and Courier on SC Slavery and Rice

Posted on April 10, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

Brian Hicks has been contributing valuable pieces on the history of the Lowcountry to the Post and Courier and this is an especially useful one. This lead story offers strong context for understanding slavery in the rice kingdom and makes use of an interview with Bernard Powers of the College of Charleston.

A Q& A with Jane Aldrich

Posted on April 10, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

Jane Aldrich, a well-known archivist and public historian of the Rice Kingdom (and friend of our work), recently fielded questions for the Post and Courier. Jane talks about assisting African Americans in tracing family history to and through plantations to Africa.

Vallambrosa Plantation Put to new Uses

Posted on April 3, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

This story comes from the Green Earth News and focuses on some interesting developments at Vallambrosa Plantation in Georgia. The Postbellum owners planted timber bamboo and then a series of owners including USDA, a philanthropist and the University of Georgia, and most recently a non-profit have maintained it for educational purposes.

Boston Globe on Gullah/Geechee Corridor

Posted on March 30, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

As you may know the National Park Service has been working toward the creation of a Gullah and Geechee Cultural Corridor through the rice kingdom and sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia. Take a look at this substantial report by the Boston Globe.

Recontruction of Black Church in Georgia Rice Country

Posted on March 18, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

This is a good little story that brings together local history, rice culture and religious practice among freedmen in the aftermath of emancipation.

Brookgreen Gardens in the news

Posted on March 1, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

he Sun News of Myrtle Beach recently published this update on Brookgreen Gardens.

Historic Preservation & Education Efforts on Savannah Rice Plantations

Posted on February 28, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

This story covers ongoing efforts of preservation and education for some Savannah River rice plantations.

RiceKingdom's New Blog

Posted on February 27, 2011 by Dr. Tuten

This represents the beginning of a new element of We have added a blog in order to post items of interest related to the and present rice kingdom. Please check in with us for continued updates.