The Charleston District is hosting the Second Annual Sweetgrass Pulling Day at the St. Stephen Powerhouse. There will be 55 sweetgrass basket makers from around the Lowcountry harvesting sweetgrass to weave their art form. This year’s pull is in memory of the nine victims from Mother Emanuel AME Church.
The event takes place on Thursday, July 30th. The pulling will be from 7 – 8 a.m. at St. Stephen Powerhouse, 1275 Rediversion Road, St. Stephen, SC 29207. Blessing of sweetgrass cross for Mother Emanuel starts at 8 a.m.
Sweetgrass is the staple for basket makers in the Lowcountry. Sweetgrass basket making is a tradition that was first shaped by captive Africans and brought to the southern United States. Basket making was continued in later generations by their descendants who have been displaying their baskets along the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. This year, one family will even be showing their children how to pick sweetgrass for the first time. Basket makers have pledged to keep the art alive as long as there is raw material, but since sweetgrass typically grows behind coastal sand dunes, residential development has destroyed much of the supply. The sweetgrass on the St. Stephen Powerhouse property is protected as part of the South Carolina Wildlife Management Area, providing a constant source of material for sweetgrass basket makers to preserve this precious art form.
Directions: From Charleston, take US HWY 52 out of North Charleston, or go I-26 to Exit 209-A to Goose Creek/Moncks Corner. Head towards Goose Creek/Moncks Corner on US HWY 52. Stay on US 52 to St. Stephen. Go through St. Stephen about 1.5 miles and past the large Cooper River Rediversion Project sign on the right. Cross the canal bridge and you will see the sign for the Hatchery. Make the next right onto Pinetree Road. At the stop sign, turn right. Paved road will end. Continue on the gravel road approximately one mile. Turn left through the open gate into the SCDNR Hatchery. Follow signs to the harvest location, which will be approximately 3 miles down the canal frontage road.