Tradition - it's the main ingredient in most things you can buy at Marsh Hen Mill on Edisto Island. And that's just the way owners Greg and Betsy Johnsman intended it to be when they married and embarked on a farming way of life. This is a family operation, which includes the couple's young sons who do their part to keep things up and running.
While the Johnsmans will engage you with stories of farm and family, the real star of the show sits silently off to the side: a 1945 grist mill used to grind their signature grits. The red contraption, acquired by Greg and painstakingly refurbished, grinds about 2,000 pounds of heirloom corn into flour, meal and grits on a weekly basis.
The products are then shipped to about 200 restaurants across the country. If you've eaten at some of Charleston's most lauded eateries, such as Husk and FIG, you've likely enjoyed the old-fashioned flavor of Marsh Hen Mill grits and other products.
The antique mill is just one of four machines Marsh Hen Mill uses to grind grains onsite. Johnsman sources grains from farmers and purveyors across South Carolina like Yellow House Farms on Wadmalaw Island, White House Farms in Georgetown, Ole Tyme Bean Co. in Elloree and Thompson Farms in Holly Hill.
More recently, Marsh Hen Mill began offering ancient grains like farro piccolo, one of the world's most primitive grains, and freekah, roasted green durum wheat.
Other Marsh Hen Mill products you'll find in their roadside market include peach salsa, pickled okra, pickled beets, jams, salad dressings, dried peas and beans, and indigo popcorn.
Marsh Hen Mill, located at 2995 Highway 174 on Edisto Island, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Products can also be ordered online.