Statesboro family keeps alive 'old timey' grits tradition

By Dal Cannady - bio | email

STATESBORO, GA (WTOC) - The whir and clang of antique motors filled Stacey Freeman's shop. It's where he preserves a part of rural culture, one bushel of corn and one bag of grits at a time. For more than 20 years, he and his family have run their own mill to grind corn into meal and grits.

"We realized there wasn't anybody left who could grind our corn," Freeman explained. "We were able to find a small mill and we started grinding our own."

"Within a couple of years, people stated tasting our grits and meal and they wanted us to grind for them," he added.

Piece by piece, the Freemans added all the components to sift the kernels, then feed the corn between a pair of 1-ton stone wheels to grind. Stacey turns a antique wheel to adjust the wheels to grind finer or meal or more course for grits. Most of the hardware is a century old, give or take a year or two.

The mill is also part-museum. A lot of the equipment would have ended up in scrap metal if it hadn't found a home here, Stacey noted.

A retired educator, Stacey invites school groups to visit one of the few remaining mills of its kind and to see how things 'used to be'.

"So many people think that food grows in a can," Freeman said with a shrug.

But if he can teach as many people as he feeds, it's a way for him to keep alive a tasty part of Southern culture.

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