|Debbie and Wendell Benton on 8/10/2011|
A great part of the Lowcountry Outdoors includes our rural and agricultural heritage. In Western Colleton County, Benton's Peanut Farm is now harvesting the fat, white-skinned gregory peanuts that outdoorsmen and their families love to shell and eat. Fortunate to have an invitation to go behind the scenes at the Peanut Shed at Snider's Crossroads (Hwy. 63 & Hwy. 21), I was able to continue a lifelong mission of tasting and sampling a few boiled peanuts!
Farmer Wendell Benton and wife Debbie Benton head up the operation that is based out of the peanut shed, with son Trent and granddaughter Breezie Jones helping out too. Their business is open for six months out of the year from May through October when peanut harvest season occurs. This year they planted 100-acres of peanuts and the main crop harvest of Gregory peanuts began July 25th.
I found out just how fortunate we are to have Benton’s locally since they only distribute peanuts in a 60-mile radius to towns like Orangeburg, Harleyville, Tillman, Ridgeland, Bluffton, Walterboro, Cottageville and Estill. Colletonians can drive to the peanut shed to purchase larger quantities of cooked peanuts in a half-peck, peck or bushel sizes.
The Benton’s peanut business started with eight small cooking pots back in ’94 and today the peanut shed runs 30 large pots that cook batches of boiled peanuts twice daily to keep up with demand. Does it get hot in the peanut shed with 30-pots of boiling water every day? You bet it does! Thanks to all the folks at Benton's Peanut Farm for making and bringing to market this local product that is an annual country tradition that everyone can enjoy!
Video By Jeff Benton Dennis: Wendell Benton personally devised the order of all the machines in his conveyor belt system that cleans and grades the peanuts before they are cooked and offered to the public
Photos By Jeff Benton Dennis: This familiar logo is on the packages of Benton's Peanuts found for sale throughout parts of the Lowcountry; Debbie and Wendell Benton founded and continue to run Benton's Peanuts; Two rows of pots are boiled at one time and then they are strained and cooled before being packaged; Just look at all those boiled peanuts inside just one pot - Mmmm Mmmm !!