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November 2009

:
Sidi Limehouse
Written By: 
Stratton Lawrence

Rural Renegade


Age: 70
Home: John’s Island
Profession: Farmer
Passions: Land conservation, hunting, fishing, and hydrangeas
Find Sidi: rosebankfarms.com and kiawahriver.org


At first glance, one wouldn’t expect gray-bearded, John’s Island farmer Sidi Limehouse to go out and buy a Prius, but with a twinkle in his eyes, he mentions his hybrid truck. Like most of his stories, he’s telling the truth—you just have to listen for the punch line.

Limehouse’s “hybrid” is an old Chevy outfitted with a GMC tailgate. It’s sort of like his two-year stint in the Air Force: “I didn’t get as much leave as I should have,” he says straight-faced, referencing his federal prison sentence at Eglin Air Force Base for a marijuana-trafficking charge for which he still denies his guilt.

Even that tale unfolds like a Jimmy Buffett song (who, of course, is an old fishing buddy of his). After encountering “a couple of fellas looking for a place to duck hunt” on an
island he co-owned, Limehouse allowed them to unload their cargo. That put an end to his political career (between 1967 and 1974 he served three stints in the State Legislature as the only Republican in the Charleston County delegation). But farming and politics don’t mix anyhow, he says. “You can’t be working and be in that damn thing.”

By the late ’70s, Limehouse settled into the farming life, and he’s still driving the tractor on Rosebank’s 75 acres of fertile soil, a small fraction of the property his family once owned. Louise Bennett, his partner of 45 years, handles the business and books. Their farm comes complete with a produce stand, pigs, ponies, and a talking parrot.

Protecting the land he grew up hunting and farming is Limehouse’s passion. Last year, he founded the Friends of the Kiawah River, which opposes the plan to build 50 houses on the sliver of dunes called Captain Sam’s Spit. His tradition of posting roadside signs came to an end when his messages targeting the spit developers drew legal complaints. But he’s allowed one sign, so he rotates versions bearing images of everyone from the Dalai Lama to Dick Cheney saying “save the spit.” “We get a lot of response,” says Limehouse. “People are real passionate about Dick Cheney.”

His humor aside, Limehouse recently spent a week in Columbia with a legal team fighting the developers’ plans. “To them, it’s a lot of money; to us, it’s one of the last places like that in South Carolina that can be preserved,” he says.




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Photograph by Sheila Larson

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