The S.C. Sea Grant Consortium assisted the Gullah Geechee Chamber Foundation with navigating the federal grants process, which resulted in a two-year award of over $280,000 from the NOAA Fisheries’ Saltonstall-Kennedy Program to the foundation for the development of a Gullah Geechee Seafood Trail. The trail will promote seafood businesses owned by members of Gullah Geechee communities in South Carolina, and will provide a vehicle for sharing their rich maritime cultural heritage experiences and stories with people visiting from around the world. Project leaders have eventual plans to expand the trail to the coasts of North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, which are within the nationally recognized Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.
Photo: Project team members host a focus group in Georgetown, S.C. Photo courtesy of Sarah Pedigo, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.
Collaborators include the Gullah Geechee Chamber Foundation, WeGOJA Foundation, Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association, and Coastal Carolina University, and with a potential $34 billion economic benefit from tourism in the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (2020 report), it’s important that historically underserved communities realize some of this economic benefit.
In 2022, the Consortium supported the social-science research objectives of the project by hosting four focus groups in Georgetown, Charleston, Kingstree, and Beaufort. During these sessions, Gullah Geechee community members spoke about familial connections to water; seafood harvesting and preparation techniques; land stewardship; sweetgrass basket weaving; culturally significant locations; how knowledge is passed down to younger generations; and challenges facing heritage preservation as well as potential solutions to those challenges.
For more information about the Gullah Geechee Seafood Trail, contact Matt Gorstein, assistant director for Development and Extension, at (843) 953-2084.