Kendra Williams was part of the USDA Field Day held at the Williams Muscadine Vineyard and Farm. The October 27, festivities included tours of the facility and a BBQ lunch, but most importantly, the occasion recognized owner David Williams for his and his family’s many accomplishments.
Working hard and living right has its rewards. One of those rewards was unique in its originality to Williamsburg County and was gladly delivered to a well-deserved gentleman and his family’s business. On October 27, elected officials, family and friends joined together to honor David Williams and the Williams Muscadine Vineyard and Farm with the Shining Star, the first of its kind.
Rows of bright green grape vines provided an appropriate backdrop for the event, which was USDA Field Day. Among the officials attending were Rural Development, Tyron Williams, Farm Service Agency, Bill Trado, Congressional Staff member Kenneth Barnes and Senator Yancey McGill. “You now are our legend,” said McGill before presenting Williams with the Shining Star award recognizing his achievements. “You are now in the legend books. You are our shining star.”
Williams, a former educator, planted the first grape vine on his parent’s land in Nesmith, which was purchased by his father Rev. Gabriel Williams in 1924. Today, Williams and his wife Edith are joined by their seven children, spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren in making the vineyard and farm a place to experience the Black farm life of the rural south.
Laurie C. Lawson, State Executive Director, Farm Service Agency, offered their assistance in enhancing the family’s continued success. “We’re here to serve you,” said Lawson. “We’re here to do things right. Every time you come in there (Farm Service Agency) we want to make every effort we can to do something for you.”
Williams is included in the 2012 AT&T African American History Calendar. Williams was honored, along with twelve additional individuals whose remarkable accomplishments are memorialized within it pages. Senator McGill, who endorsed Williams, attended the gala that took place in October in Columbia. “It was standing room only,” said McGill. “When David Williams was recognized, the applause and cheers was second to none. I have never heard such an outburst of pride all over that building. Its amazing, this man knows everybody.”
Williams also has been the recipient of several other awards that include 2009 South Carolina African American Commission’s Preserving Our Place in History award and 2010 Williamsburg HomeTown Chamber Agriculturalist of the Year.
The Farm has been featured in several publications that include Minority Landowner magazine and the Greater Pee Dee/Grand Strand Business Journal and reached beyond the borders of South Carolina in an August 2010 Philadelphia Sun article titled “Smooth Traveler, South Carolina’s Heritage Corridor” where the farm was recognized in a brief of activities in which guests are involved upon visiting.
“Farming is a blessing to me. I just love it,” said Williams as he addressed the group. “When I come here I got a different spirit. I see things and feel things that I never felt before. I call it Blessed Land.”
Williams also received a plaque from the County Council and Supervisor Stanley Pasley recognizing his accomplishments. “When I look at “Daddy Ag”, I see an Eli Whitney,” said County Councilman W. B. Wilson who presented the plaque. “Daddy Ag has done so much for this area in promoting the grapes. Thank you, Daddy, for everything you have done.”
The Field Day included tours of the farm, information booths and a BBQ lunch.
The farm is located 14 miles east of Kingstree of Highway 261. The family produces four types of what may be the best Muscadine grapes this side of the Mississippi. Besides Muscadine wine, the family also produces grape infused delicacies such as jams and jellies.
The farm provides scheduled demonstrations, activities, and hands-on farming experiences for school groups, church youth organizations, senior groups, as well as other groups. Each Labor Day weekend the family hosts the Muscadine Festival and You-Pick during the harvest season. For more information call (803) 397-1858 or visit www.williamsvineyard.com. Catch a glimpse of the farm on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCU6shx9p-M