Bringing Gold to Charleston

Written By Jimmy Hagood

Originally Published in the Rice Paper Newsletter, Spring 2012


Here are some of my thoughts from the experiences the Hagood Family had with the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, Charleston Gold Rice, and working with David Shields, Glenn Roberts, and Merle Shepard. 

We began speaking with Glenn in March 2008. I have known Glenn for the past 10 years, through the Southern Foodways Alliance and Carolina Gold Rice Foundation. He has always been so encouraging and helpful by assisting our family with the various aspects of planting, harvesting, milling, and reaching the market with a finished product. In our discussion in the early years, we were hesitant to begin the process. My father, Ben Hagood, was very concerned about committing our inland ricefields for rice harvest. Over the past 15 years we have reclaimed these historic fields for growing corn and millet and then flooding to support the wood duck and teal population. Our upper field is used as a reservoir especially in drought years. This would have been the field designated for growing CGR.

Beginning in 2011 our discussions resumed and what became apparent was the new strain, Charleston Gold Rice, would be well suited to plant in our lower field, the field that we drain each year after duck season and then plant with corn in the spring and flood in the fall. Because the Charleston Gold Rice is planted in dry conditions this seemed to be a perfect fit. 

After Glenn, Merle, and David visited our farm in January 2011, we began taking the steps for planting in late spring. We received shipment of the seed in late April and by mid-May we planted 4 acres of Charleston Gold. The field is predominately peat and we are able to keep most of these 80 acres moist by maintaining water in the perimeter and center canal throughout the summer.

By late September the crop was in very good condition. We began harvest in the second week of October. We learned that the AC 72 pull combine was difficult to use in the peat and moist soil. We even spent a day harvesting by hand with six men. Once the larger combine was secured the remaining plots were harvested in one day. In the four acres we sent 8,000 pounds to Anson Mills and Campbell Cox for milling. The yield was approximately 4,500 pound. We are now marketing this crop as the 2011 Lavington Farms Charleston Gold Aromatic Rice. We have distributed this product in 1-pound bags to most grocery stores in the Lowcountry. We have also sold in bulk to several local restaurants. 

See the attached product label that we developed with Clay Rice, the grandson of Carew rice. This family have been silhouette artists in Charleston for three generations.

We are excited about continuing our relationship with the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, Anson Mills, and others to produce the 2012 Charleston Gold crop. We have learned a tremendous amount in the past 12 months and look forward to farming this year’s crop. Thank you to all that has made this possible for the Hagood Family and Lavington Farms.