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History of asparagus farming in South Carolina

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

My friend Hank Stallworth spent summers at his maternal grandfather’s farm, Singleton, a few miles from Saint Matthews. Henry Wienges, Mr. Henry as he was known to all, believed in diversity – row crops but also sheep, pigs, and poultry. He also grew several hundred acres of asparagus and a USDA grading and community shipping building on the property still stands today, a hundred feet from the Southern Railroad tracks. During the twenties, thirties and through the forties tons of these vegetables were shipped to northern markets. By the nineteen fifties, asparagus production had basically ended in the Palmetto State. Wienges eventually became a nationally known race horse breeder, always looking for ways to diversify from just row crops. Today these same tracks have a half hour of freight train traffic taking BMW’s from the upstate to the Charleston port.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.