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.

Charleston Gold in the Field

Written by David S. Shields

Originally Published in The Rice Paper Newsletter, Spring 2012


In April of 2011 Charleston Gold Rice, the aromatic offspring of classic Carolina Gold, received approval for production growing — in time for planting in the 2011 growing season. The USDA approved the variety name, and The Carolina Gold Rice Foundation (CGRF) released seed for cultivation. The product of 10 years of breeding and refining by Foundation board member and Clemson University scientist Merle Shepard and rice breeder Gurdev Kush, with growouts overseen by Dr. Anna McClung, Charleston Gold combines the classic gold hulls and wholesome mouth feel of Carolina Gold, with the short stature, disease resistance and productivity of two important modern rice strains. Heeding the global turn in taste toward aromatic rice, Shepard and Kush insured that the grain would have an earthy fragrance similar to that of the best Indian rices. The qualities immediately attracted growers.

Its qualities attracted Jimmy Hagood to enter for the first time into rice planting. Proprietor of Southern Food for the Soul and an award-winning barbecue pitmaster, Hagood visited with members of the Foundation Board who offered seed and assistance on the project. The crop at Lavington Plantation on the Ashepoo River, an ideal rice habitat, proved productive and vigorous. At harvest time, CGRF board members again stepped in to assist Jimmy Hagood and his crew in the harvest, milling, and packaging of the crop. Since both Glenn Roberts and Campbell Coxe had grown the variety, they knew first hand Charleston Gold’s qualities in the field and in the mill. [See Jimmy Hagood’s account of working with Charleston Gold in this issue.]

At harvest time the news of the splendid crop of Charleston Gold found a ready audience in the meeting of The American Food Journalists Association at Middleton Place. Dr. Merle Shepard spoke to the assembly of the creation of the variety. The food writers had the opportunity to see for themselves the splendors of the new rice. The Charleston Post & Courier underscored the importance of the rice’s introduction in a feature article dated October 15, 2011.

The most concrete measure of the success of a new introduction is its appearance on the market. Rice lovers can get Charleston Gold from several sources. Carolina Plantation Rice offers a two lb. bag of 2011 Charleston Gold for $9.32. ucts/Carolina-Plantation-Charleston-Gold- Rice.html

Jimmy Hagood tells how you can secure his rice in his article. Glenn Roberts offers a Laurel- scented version of Charleston Gold in the retail product section of his Anson Mills site: