Culture on the Vine: Gullah/Geechee Muscadine
by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)
Bloomberg recently released an article on how America uses land. In it, they stated that 391.5 acres are cropland. In South Carolina, there are approximately 25,000 farms, which encompass 4.9 million acres. South Carolina agriculture is worth $3 billion annually, between crops and livestock. Although most of this industry was once dominated by Africans that were forced to work the land, a shift has occurred and many people of African descent no longer farm. In fact, many families have been displaced from their land in the south.
In the Gullah/Geechee Nation, the continuation of cultural traditions on the land is still a major issue. The traditionalists have long since realized that without our land, we do not have a culture much less a home. So, we continue to fight to maintain land ownership, combat environmental dangers, and to continue the economic empowerment of family members upon the land.
In Nesmith, which is on the western boundary of the Gullah/Geechee Nation in South Carolina, there are miles of acres of land lined out in cotton and soybeans. Suddenly down a long dirt road, you find a vineyard in the midst of it all. As I walked among the vines it was as if Isaiah from the Bible was walking with me saying:
21 And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
22 They shall not build, and
another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them.
• Isaiah 65: 21-23 KJV
Here I was with those offspring of the 92 year old, David Williams Sr. who was South Carolina’s 2010 Agriculturalist of the Year. He had not only literally planted the vines, but he had taught generations of other people how to farm. His offspring are not only continuing the tradition of being agricultural educators in surrounding school districts, but they are also remaining attached to the land on which their family was birthed. They care for each vine that grows there by hand. Ef mo bout disya famlee hunnuh wan yeddi, tek a journee ta de Williams Vineyard & Farm thru Gullah/Geechee TV:
Annually, the Williams Vineyard & Farm located at 21 Gabriel PL Nesmith, SC 29580 host the “Williams Muscadine Festival” during Labor Day Weekend.
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- Tagged: agriculture, Black history, cultural heritage, festival, Geechee, Gullah, gullah geechee nation, Gullah/Geechee TV, muscadine, Nesmith, Queen Quet, SC, South Carolina, Williams Family