SOLO's founder and current President and CEO is Maurice Bailey, son of Sapelo Island griot, writer, historian, and activist Cornelia Walker Bailey. During her lifetime, Mrs. Bailey was featured in dozens - if not hundreds - of articles and, in 2017, the nation mourned her passing. Yet, her vision was not lost on her son, Maurice, whom since her passing has dedicated himself to his mother's vision of cultural preservation through agricultural revival.
The Agriculture Program on Sapelo Island began in 2014. During this time, Maurice was serving on the Board of Sapelo Island Cultural and Revitalization Society (SICARS), a nonprofit organization founded by Cornelia Walker Bailey to secure a future for the people of Hog Hammock. In 2017, the University of Georgia (UGA) started the Cornelia Walker Bailey Program on Land and Agriculture to function as a short-term incubator by providing support and resources to assist with growing the SICARS agricultural program. Cornelia Walker Bailey Program Co-Directors, Maurice Bailey (SICARS' Vice-President at the time) and Nik Heynen (UGA Professor), grew the agricultural program from 2016 to the present. Out of these collaborations and partnerships, Maurice registered Save Our Legacy Ourself (SOLO) as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 2021.
SOLO's mission is to preserve the culture, heritage, and traditions of the Saltwater Geechee people on Sapelo Island. And, to work toward achieving food sovereignty by leveraging partnerships to modernize farming practices and expand agricultural development and economic opportunities for the community of Hog Hammock. After five growing seasons, with the support and efforts of our partners, we brought our first major product to market in fall 2020, Sapelo Island sugarcane (featured in the New York Times). We are incubating several other heritage and heirloom crops to bring to the market in the future including Geechee red peas, sour oranges, indigo, and garlic.