As a native Gullah/Geechee that continues the agricultural legacy that has been passed down on both sides of my family for generations, I have a great deal of respect for Black farmers. I know the trials and tribulations of planting crops only to end up feeding more deers and raccoons than folks living on the family compound or helping provide more food to be stored by ants and squirrels than you get to preserve for yourself for the off-season. I have also prayed for rain during droughts and prayed we wouldn’t get too much rain when hurricanes were approaching our coast since the deluge rains that folks are now calling “rain bombs” will end up flooding our fields. Since, I am not growing my rice outside this year, I definitely don’t need a flooded field! Tenk GAWD I ain bin da gwine tru da disya habess. Nonetheless, I was sad to hear about many farmers that lost entire fields to these things. I am happy that many replanted and intend to press on with fall / winter crops.
In spite of a broken tiller just when the high grass kept growing amidst the life threatening heatwave, I was able to get out into the field in the late evenings and do as my ancestors did and remove the grass and weeds with a field hoe and by hand. As a result of the backbreaking work, I am blessed to be able to continue to harvest. I smile as I pass through the rows and recall what came to my field as seedlings from Earth People Farms and what I sent to them and what came from the Williams Farm and Vineyard and what I sent to them. We have all been assisting each other with keeping our food security throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation by holdin pun de land and livin we culcha riycha fa tru.
As I took some time to relax after having a field to table fresh cooked Gullah/Geechee vegan meal, I checked to see what other celebrations were taking place in addition to Black August, Black Philanthropy Month, and Black Business Month. To my surprise, I found out that this is “Farmers Market Week!” I smiled again because this gave me an even more pertinent context for writing and posting to encourage people to support Gullah/Geechee owned farms. Ef dem chillun ain bin da wok de land, ain nuttin gwine dey dey at de farmas market tall tall.
I started thinking of all the native Gullah/Geechee farmers that I know sell at various farmers markets that I support:
• Williams Farm & Vineyard in Nesmith, SC
• Earth People Farms, Otis Daise, Marshland Farm and Barefoot Farm on historic St. Helena Island, SC
• Fleming Family at the Farmer’s Market in Kingstree, SC
• Pops Stevenson who has his own market in the heart of Ridgeland, SC
Many of these farms use modern tools, techniques and equipment in order to sustain their agricultural practices. However, like me, there are those that also still use the tools of our ancestors on ancestral land that has been owned by their families since the 1800s like the folks at Freewoods Farms in Burgess, SC:
The Gullah Farmers Coop on St. Helena Island is continuing to help keep Gullah/Geechee farming traditions alive the same way the Farmers Coop at the site of the Stono Rebellion marker and the Gullah Farmers Markets at Penn Center and in Bluffton set out to do. They are continuing the legacy of what began at the St. Helena Farmers’ Co-op that my grandfather was a member of. The historic building on St. Helena Island is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is in the heart of the Corners Community Preservation District’s Market District.
Supporting Gullah/Geechee owned farms and the farmers’ markets that Gullah/Geechee farmers are a part of honors the legacy of those that toiled together to create fraternal orders that would assist Gullah/Geechee farming families with various needs. I have great love for my folks at Sol Legare that labored to restore and continue to maintain the Sol Legare Seaside Farmers Lodge:
With all of this Gullah/Geechee legacy that exist in and on the soil of the Sea Islands where the Black gold hands continue to harvest, I would have been remissed if I didn’t celebrate our farmers and our farmers markets this National Farmers Week. Hunnuh chillun need fa gwine ta um fa git sumting healtee fa nyam pun fa tru!
Tenk GAWD fa de Gullah/Geechee farmin famlees and de markets ya!