MOUNT PLEASANT S.C. (WCBD)- A shortage of sweet grass in the Lowcountry has some people worried that the centuries-old tradition and culture could be lost.
If you’ve driven down Highway 17 or walked through the Charleston City Market, chances are you’ve seen people selling sweetgrass baskets. But recently, weavers have been having trouble finding enough sweet grass to sustain their business.
Sweetgrass basket weaving has been a popular pastime and a business practice for Lowcountry natives. Weaving for many enslaved people became necessary for creating dishes, bowels, and baskets to accommodate living lifestyles.
But as developments increase in communities, the amount of Sweetgrass is starting to decline. And the decline is beginning to worry weavers like Corey Alston.
“Sweetgrass is very hard to find today, and it’s so hard to find because we don’t have land masses in the tri-county. We don’t have land masses that can grow in this area, and to let it grow in this area, we need to protect and let it grow naturally,” said Alston.
Ann Simmons, a woman who weaves in the community, felt that history was more important than worrying about the dollar amount received from selling Sweetgrass.
“This is a part of our history, as African Americans, that was enslaved. We still need to carry on the tradition,” said Simmons.
Katie Dickson, Director of Horticulture of Boone Hall Farms, said Boone Hall and Corey Alston have plans to expand the project of harvesting Sweetgrass in the future.
“We plan to continue piloting the project, and down the line, we want to harvest the fibers and distribute them to the weavers. The goal is to give it back to them,” said Dickson.
Basket weavers said they’re hoping for a stronger sweetgrass season next year to harvest more.