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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region.

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ORAL HISTORY

Charles Poirier


Poirier's Cane Syrup

Charles Poirier, born in 1973, grew up in Youngsville, a south-side suburb of Lafayette. The Poirier family are Cajuns from St. Martinville, and their family has grown sugarcane for generations, likely going back to the 18th century. Charles learned the craft from his paternal grandfather, Leopold, who grew sugarcane and made his own syrup. Charles grew up eating coush-coush, a traditional Acadian breakfast of steamed cornmeal, doused in milk and drizzled with cane syrup.

Today Charles lives in the same home he grew up in, on his grandfather’s old property. In 2004, after sourcing a small, antique mill, he started growing a small patch of cane and boiling the juice to make syrup. He was the only small-batch cane syrup producer around. A few years later, chefs and specialty groceries discovered his product, which is available in limited supply from his website. Today, Charles farms just over an acre of sugarcane, squeezing in the work between working as a full-time pump mechanic for the Lafayette Consolidated Government and refurbishing antique tractors.

Date of interview:
2020-03-02

Interviewer:
Rien Fertel

Photographer:
Denny Culbert

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