Greg and Betsy Johnsman both have roots in farm life. Betsy’s father has been farming tomatoes all her life. Greg was introduced to a gristmill when he was a boy. The two met while students at Clemson University. Betsy encouraged Greg to pursue his love of milling. Fast forward more than a decade and the Johnsmans are running a booming business with Geechie Boy Market & Mill.
The family owned and operated business now supplies grits for some of Charleston’s most well-known chefs as well as world-class restaurants around the United States.
But it all started first with Betsy’s father, Adair McKoy, who began farming at the age of 14 in Sumter, SC. He eventually moved to Wadmalaw Island, SC and went into the tomato business. As his farming operation grew he acquired the packing house on Edisto Island, SC – Home of the original Geechie Boy.
As a youngster growing up in the South Carolina foothills, Greg was soaking up all he could from men who’d been working the grits mills for decades. Now he’s the proud keeper of a 1945 mill and separator, entrusted with the historic machine under two stipulations: Greg wouldn’t sell the mill and that he would make it available for the public to see.
So the mill is on display in the Geechie Boy market where it runs every week, spitting out grits, flour and cornmeal while providing educational opportunities for visitors who stop off at the market.