Glenn Roberts grew up in the hospitality business in San Diego, California. As a young man, he worked as a busboy at his mother’s restaurant. After he graduated from the University of North Carolina, he joined the Air Force, sailed the world on private boats, and drove long-haul trucks. He eventually landed in South Carolina, where his mother grew up. In 1998, Roberts left his Charleston-based career in historic restoration and hotel design to follow his nose into the agriculture and food industries. As founder of Anson Mills, based in Columbia, South Carolina, Roberts grows, harvests, and mills heirloom varietals of organic rice, corn, and wheat for chefs and home cooks
By 2000, Glenn had his first real harvest of Carolina Gold rice, as well as 10 varieties of Southern dent corn heirlooms. He was milling grits for chefs in Georgia and the Carolinas. Word got around. A handful of ingredient-conscious chefs across the country began to use Anson Mills products and promote them vigorously to their colleagues. The circle widened. In 2001, sustained by the success of Anson Mills’ early efforts, Glenn was able to take on full production of certified organic Carolina Gold rice and a “Thirteen Colony” wheat called Red May.
Today, in addition to its collection of native heirloom grains, Anson Mills grows Japanese buckwheat, French oats and Mediterranean wheat, and Italian farro. Glenn continues to be restless and curious. He works tirelessly to manage his old grains, the land, and their growers, as well as chefs and retail customers. It’s a relentless effort. But he never has to wear a suit.