Raymond L. Tumbleston, was known as the “Geechie Boy” here on the sea islands where he continued the legacy of farming the rich soil of Edisto by growing, packing and shipping tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, cantaloupes, grains and winter greens for over 40 years. He was dedicated to his Lord, family, community and farming. We kept the “Geechie Boy” name for our business in honor of the “original” Raymond L. Tumbleston for all of the work that he did not only for the community and conservation, but for all of the farming community state wide.
In 2007, the Johnsmans started milling grits to supplement their farm income. The antique mill is used to produce Geechie Boy Grits for the public to see – both an educational tool and a glimpse into the past.
On their Edisto Island farm, the Johnsmans operate historic working mills, creating grits used in the country’s finest restaurants, including James Beard award-winning chefs in nearby Charleston and around the nation. On a 3-acre garden next to their market, they grow a variety of heirloom vegetables and specialty crops at the request of chefs.
Authenticity is a hallmark of Geechie Boy products. Heirloom corn is used in the antique gristmills, which preserve the natural oils and flavors of the corn resulting in the most flavorful grits. At the Geechie Boy Market, customers are guaranteed fresh, seasonal produce.
As they work the land, ship their grits around the country and chase after two young sons, Greg and Betsy are indeed preserving a way a life and capturing a piece of Southern history for generations to come.
Greg Johnsman was raised in a small town in the South Carolina Upstate where he met Jack Brock, a third-generation miller who taught Greg the process of milling grits the old-fashioned way. Greg was hooked. He discovered a 1945 mill and separator in Saluda owned by Lamar Berry. Mr Brock encouraged Greg to purchase and restore the mill and separator. Greg easily agreed to the stipulation that the mill must be on display for the public to see and never be sold again.
When Greg attended Clemson, he discovered another love: Betsy. The two married and eventually relocated to the Lowcountry, where Betsy’s family was long-time farmers.
At Geechie Boy Mill, food is first. The focus is on growing the best produce and milling the finest grits and cornmeal. Greg and Betsy Johnsman have a passion for the land and for their products.