As we get ready to close the books on 2017, it seems fitting to reflect back on this year we will bid ado in a few short days. 2017 posed many challenges to Pearson Farm. From record breaking, warm winter days to multiple, freezing spring nights, we lost almost our entire peach crop..... Yet, 20% of the sweetest, juiciest peaches you ever put in your mouth survived. From hurricane force winds to thunderstorms that turned into twisters, our pecan trees sustained damage that will be felt for many years….. Yet, we ended up with a good crop of full, meaty, flavorful pecans. What’s that saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you STRONGER”…… Pearson Farm plans to shake off the dust of 2017 and run into 2018, taking the lessons we learned that have made our Farm stronger. We thank you, our dear friends and loyal customers, for your prayers, patronage and support throughout this year. We look forward to having you visit the Farm, speaking with you on the phone and preparing your packages of pecans and peaches next year. Our prayer for Pearson Farm and for you all as well, is that 2018 will be a year full of peace, hope and prosperity (along with a good crop of peaches 🍑 and pecans 🌰) We’ll see you all next year!!
SHARING THE BOUNTY
Nothing makes me homesick like smelling peaches in the grocery store. I’ve actually cried in the produce section before. To me, the smell of a peach is heavy with wonderful memories of being a child, riding in my daddy’s truck, or visiting the packing shed. I’m Laurie, the youngest of Al’s 3 children. I’ve lived away now for 20 years but I still miss home and often long to be a little girl again.
For a special Father’s Day blog post, I wanted to write to you about my daddy. You might not know him at all, you might just enjoy the fruit of his labor. Or you might know him as your boss or friend. You don’t know him like I do though. I wish you did. Not many people in this world have a daddy like mine and for that, I am sorry. The two things that stand out to me about my daddy are his hands, and his voice.
He hands are big, strong, and gentle. He uses them to work, to build, to create, to serve, to cook, to clean, to love. He can fix or draw anything with these hands. He can write out scavenger hunts, carve a totem pole, sew a tent, or prepare a fishing pole. He can hold his grand kids like he used to hold us. And he can give the best hugs. He can put you to shame with how he peels a peach-- just set down the knife and let him do it. He is always serving others with his hands, and that is the kind of leader he is. His hands are recognizable and unique partly because they are badly scarred from an accident a long time ago. He actively loves us with his hands in so many ways. His hands and how he uses them remind me of Jesus, who actively loves us with his scarred hands too.
Then there’s his voice. It has a deep southern, resonating tone like none other. He can sing and can make up a song about anything. He is known to just start singing out of the blue no matter who might be listening. I save his voicemails just so I can hear his voice when I want to. It calms me and reminds me that he loves me. If you want to know how to pronounce “Laurie”, ask my daddy, he says it just right. It’s not only how his voice sounds but what he says. My long distance relationship with him is mostly over the phone so I hang onto his words, what he says and how he says it. He can make me laugh or cry in a minute just by being sweet. The words he uses with me remind me again of my heavenly Father. He said just yesterday to me, “That’s not your worry, so you don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of it.” And he also said recently, “Sugar, you got a lot on your plate. Let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” So often my earthly father helps me understand my heavenly Father with what he says and how he says it.
Chances are good that you don’t have a daddy like mine. We do have a heavenly Father with capable, gentle, scarred hands and with a voice that calls your name and calls you His own. At the head of Pearson Farm is a father we are proud of and thankful for. If you see him this peach season, shake his strong hand and make sure to have a conversation with him. Tell him Laurie sent you.
After years of speaking with customers and answering numerous questions about peach varieties, we came to the conclusion that the only way to truly understand the difference is to experience each peach variety first hand. Since color, texture, and taste change throughout the season from one variety to the next, finding a way to share the whole peach experience proved tricky. Those of us in the business know which varieties to wait for and we all have our favorites. Some might call us “peach snobs,” but we prefer “peach aficionado.” Really, we’re just huge peach fans. We want to invite you to join us as peach connoisseurs by taking this journey down the Pearson Prince Peach Path.
What’s that saying, “Variety is the Spice of Life”? Well that holds true with everything it seems, including peaches. Did you know there are more than 2000 peach varieties grown throughout the world? That’s a lot to choose from, so you might wonder why there are so many, what makes each one different, and how farmers choose which varieties to grow. To answer these questions, we decided to enlist the help of some peachy experts. We are fortunate enough to have the two best experts in the field within a short drive of the Farm, and we had to start with Mr. Peach himself, Will McGehee. Will is the founding partner of Genuine Georgia. He eats, sleeps, breathes, but more importantly, sells all our Pearson Farm peaches. He knows everything there is to know about selling peaches, and I mean EVERYTHING! It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a Pearson and has grown up here on the Farm. We’ve cultivated hundreds of varieties over our 135 years, but today we only produce 50 with many bearing the Prince name. Will helped us choose the 6 most interesting Prince varieties to include in our Pearson Prince Subscription. These 6 boxes will offer an assortment of colors, flavors, and textures to arrive on your doorstep every week from June 11-July 23. You’ll get to experience different sizes of peaches, peaches shaped like hearts, and maybe even a few the size of softballs. We want you to see the meaning of “blush on yellow background,” chartreuse peelings, and decide for yourself which peach is referred to as a ‘supermodel.” We know you’ll learn the true difference between clingstone and freestone and maybe decide that the peaches that hold onto their pits aren’t that bad after all. Our true desire is for you to experience every wonderful, sweet, juicy thing you can about peaches in 6 short weeks and join us in our own little exclusive peach club.
To become a true “peach expert,” you’ll need a little history lesson in peach varieties, and for that we went to Dr. Dick Okie. He spent more than 30 years as a stone fruit breeder at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service up the road from the Farm. He tells us that back in the 1930’s, the farmers in this area were experiencing problems with their peach crops. They needed new varieties that would flourish in our soil and climate, and trees that would be resistant to the diseases that were wreaking havoc on their crops. Peach growers wanted firm fruit that could be shipped outside of Georgia and trees hearty enough to extend the season. They hoped these issues could be addressed by the new breeding program that was just getting started. John Weinberger was hired in 1937 as the first breeder at the Peach County office. Believe me when I tell you, tree breeding is a long process. Mr. Weinberger dedicated almost 20 years to the Fort Valley station, developing the foundation for a successful peach breeding program. Victor Prince came on board as his successor in 1955. Mr. Prince worked tirelessly for 25 years, adding his knowledge and experience to work previously started and refused to retire until his replacement, Dr. Dick Okie, was hired in 1980. With the combined efforts of his work and the work of his two predecessors, Dr. Okie was able to release the first Prince variety in 1981…. 50 years after the breeding program started! The science of tree breeding is more advanced than I could ever understand much less communicate, but the idea of 3 men and 80+ combined years of research is easy to define…. It’s called work ethic, and Pearson Farm was fortunate to be right here where all their hard work took place. We were even asked to test a few breeds on our Farm, which made it feel like these gentlemen were breeding peaches specifically for us.
The names of all the varieties was most intriguing to me. I learned that new varieties don’t receive their names until they are released for nursery production. Until that time, they are only identified by a series of letters and numbers. Doesn’t that sound so official, and something you might hear in a science fiction movie? I can almost hear the breeders saying, “BY87P944 has cropped well when chilling has been adequate,” or “BY92P7810 is a highly colored selection with excellent eating quality.” Since Dr. Okie was the breeder of record at the time the Prince varieties were released, he was bestowed the honor of giving them their names. He laughed when he told me that there is no real science to the naming process, but he did feel that brand identification was important for these new varieties. He chose to give them all a double name with the last name being “Prince” as a way of paying tribute to his predecessor, Victor Prince. The first names I learned were chosen for a variety of reasons. For instance, SPRINGPRINCE was named because it is harvested in the Spring, and RUBYPRINCE because of its mostly red color. I found the most interesting to be FLAMEPRINCE whose name was chosen because its first commercial harvest date coincided with the 1996 Olympics held in Atlanta, Georgia. Even though Mr. Al once told Dr. Okie, “Dick, there are too many Prince varieties,” we are so glad that he released 15 in the Prince series and proudly grow 11 of them today at Pearson Farm.
So now that we’ve increased your peach IQ, let’s see if we can expand your peach palate by inviting you to join us on this peach adventure. The season is quickly approaching, and the Prince Subscriptions will only be offered for a limited time, so make sure to place your orders early. We want your opinion of every box you receive, and we are excited to hear your comments. We’ll be honored to add you to our list of peachy professionals, and we can’t wait to follow your journey down the Pearson Prince Peach Path.
Easter coincides with the full moon, and historically there is always a cold snap right before Easter Sunday. For Pearson Farm, Easter brings a sigh of relief, for we have made it through the cold dark winter, and the rising sun brings forth hope that our crop has made it through and now it’s time to get to work tending it. I was reminded this week of one of my favorite hymns, Because He Lives. The words of this beautiful song are a glorious testament to God’s goodness and grace. They declare an endless hope for our future along with a gentle reminder that we are able to face tomorrow with all the uncertainties it brings. Farming is certainly full of unpredictability and concern, but we are able to trust that God is faithful, and He will provide for all our needs. His provision may not always look the way we would like, but we are assured that he will take care of us, Because He Lives!
We hope you will enjoy this Easter weekend like us, gathering with family and friends celebrating the promise that Easter brings. The promise that God sent his only son to die on the cross and then bring Him back from the grave so that we may have eternal life with Him.
“God sent his son, they called him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!!
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, All fear is gone,
Because I know, He holds the future,
Life is the worth the living, just BECAUSE HE LIVES!”
If I've heard him say it once, I've heard him say it 100 times, "old men don't grow peaches." After years like 2017 and weeks like the last two, it's easy to understand why Mr. Al says it. Restless days and sleepless nights spent worrying about freezing temps and frost will turn even a young man's hair gray. We have been fortunate to receive plenty of chill hours to make a good crop of peaches but the last 2 week's weather forecasts have put the crop in danger. Lawton and the other peach farmers around here have spent the last 2 weeks combining the science of modern farming, the tried and true techniques of their forefathers, and a lot of time on their knees in prayer.
Peaches are a difficult crop to grow due to many factors out of farmers control, so we do our best to prepare for these events with a long term approach that encompasses everything from carefully selecting sites for new orchards to planting trees in areas of orchards not prone to frost accumulation. At one time, there were over 50 peach farms in or around Peach county. Today, there are only 5, and while the work is hard on body and soul, we know how fortunate we are to have the opportunity to plant trees and grow delicious peaches and pecans. We feel it is our responsibility to continue what our family started all those years ago.
While a few hours of frost and temps that dipped lower than we like have left their mark, we are tickled about the 2018 crop. We ask that you keep Pearson Farm in your prayers as we make our way through the last week of Winter and first few weeks of Spring continuing to farm our sweet Georgia peaches 🍑
I’m not sure what the weather is like in your neck of the woods, but it is definitely starting to feel like spring out on the Farm. The peaches are beginning to bloom in preparation for the new season. We’ll tell you more about that in the coming weeks, but today I wanted to share a story about a different kind of new beginning.
So yesterday Frank called to see if I wanted to come watch him move a pecan tree. I’m always up for a farming lesson especially, if it involves a field trip so I said yes, grabbed my keys and headed up the road. I found Frank with a particularly interesting piece of equipment at the edge of an old orchard. He pointed out the spot he would dig the hole for the tree he was moving. I stood mesmerized as I watched this VERY LARGE machine with what looked like 4 HUGE shovels dig the hole. I’m sure I looked like a nut with my mouth hanging open, but this was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and it took less than 5 minutes to dig this massive hole!! Frank let me ride with him in this giant contraption to another orchard where he dropped the dirt before heading over to the tree he was going to move. As soon as we made our way down the row, I immediately knew which tree was being relocated. You see when you are transplanting trees, it is imperative that you prepare it to the very best of your ability to ensure its survival in its new home. You must crop the top so it only stands about 18-20 feet tall. Then the limbs are cut to make the top balanced with the bottom, and finally the roots are clipped to keep them from tearing when it is lifted out of the ground. This particular tree, despite its straggly appearance, stood tall awaiting Frank and this massive machine coming to uproot it from its current home and take it to a new one. The removal was just as quick and equally as impressive as the hole digging had been earlier. As we drove back to make the transplant, I couldn’t help but be concerned about this tree. Frank assured me that right now the tree is dormant so it will recover quickly from the move. They have prepared it well, and it’s only needs are fresh dirt and water to acclimate to its new environment. However, I know that there will be watchful eyes on this young tree for many weeks to come ensuring that it is adjusting to its new home I am constantly captivated by the parallels I find between these trees and children. They both need preparation for changes that are coming their way, and they both need a nurturing, loving, caring home to thrive and become bountiful …… happy moving day!!
As I was researching material for this story, I looked up the meaning of L❤️VE. There is TONS of information available on the subject….. page after page on google shares definitions of love, images portraying love, movies and songs about love and even advice on how to find love. However, the one thing I didn’t find was a love story about a 135-year-old peach and pecan farm in Zenith, Georgia. So……. I decided we should write one, and what I found was more love than I could begin to share in one sitting so we pared it down to just a couple pretty cool stories. We hope you enjoy.....
You may remember Maria and Jose’ from a FAMILY Friday we shared late last year. We spoke of their jobs here at the Farm, and how long they have worked for the Pearson’s. What we didn't tell you at that time was that they met because of the Farm and not because they were working here together. Back in the late 90’s, Maria’s sister came to work at Pearson Farm for peach season. That summer she met the man who would become her future husband. At their wedding later that year, Maria met Jose’, who just happened to be the brother of the groom! There was immediate chemistry. They spent as much time together as possible during Jose's brief visit to Mexico and spent hours on the phone once he returned to Pearson Farm. During their phone calls, they discussed Maria coming to the Farm that upcoming peach season. It was such a fun summer. Not only was she getting to spend a lot of time with Jose’, but her whole family was together working in peaches. As the season began to draw to an end, Jose’ told Maria, "I don’t think you need to go back to Mexico. You need to stay here with me.” He then went and spoke with her mother and older brother, asking their permission to marry Maria. Today, 18 years later, they have 2 beautiful children, and continue to be important members of the Pearson Farm FAMILY. Maria manages Mary’s Kitchen and Jose’ is Mr. Al’s right-hand man (when you’ve been here 30+ years what other job would you have? 😉). It makes our heart smile knowing that our Farm helped bring these 2-wonderful people together and that we continue to be a part of their story.
Kimberly and Fernando met and married in their hometown in Mexico after several months of a sweet courtship. Soon after their wedding, Kimberly' dad left Mexico in search of work in the United States. Before leaving, he started the immigration process for Kimberly and her brothers in hopes that they would be able to come here for work as well. Not long after the birth of their son, Kimberly was offered an opportunity for work in California. She hated leaving Fernando and her baby but knew she must take advantage of this chance to provide a better life for her family. So, with her husband’s blessing she left to work for a season. Someone close to her family later told her about a farm in Georgia that utilized the H2A program for seasonal help. She hoped that this farm still needed workers and possibly she could get her husband a job there. So, the next year she came to Pearson Farm to work in peaches. Following her cousin’s advice, she knew her first task was to find Israel, the Farm manager. When she saw him, she said, “Israel, I need your help! I want my husband Fernando to come here to work so my family can be together. Can you help us?” Israel had a spot for the two of them the very next peach season. Fernando and Kimberly were able to work together and blessed to make enough money to buy a home. Today, they are living and working on the Farm and have just given birth to their second son. Even though the Farm didn't introduce them, it has allowed them to be together and work, providing a bright future for the ones they love.
As these stories and others like them unfolded, I began to realize that the true love story is the Farm.......There's no way Mr. Al and Lawton could work the hours they do, invest the money they do, or take care of all the people they do unless they LOVED this red dirt of Zenithland. Their love for this Farm and the people who work here is truly immeasurable. A love like this isn't born from romance, but does send their heart a flutter. It runs every bit as deep and can elicit the strongest emotions of joy and heart break that any romance can bring. This kind of LOVE is enduring, long suffering, and forever. It fills every orchard, dirt road, and building on this Farm. Their love and respect for this land and these trees is contagious. The Farm has provided a vehicle for young love between local folks and even for those from faraway lands..... It has afforded opportunities for selfless love exemplified by the generations of Pearson’s who own this Farm as well as the local men and women who work here, and those who leave their homes and families coming to the Farm looking for a better life and future for those they love. It is so much more than acres, and trees, and tractors. Pearson Farm is alive and growing and loving on its FAMILY every day! HAPPY VALENTINES DAY from our FAMILY to yours!! ❤️
How much sleep do you need?? That always seems to be the question when it comes to raising children. Adults even keep track of our sleep patterns, as we strive to lead healthier lives. Last year when our peaches didn't get enough cold hours, I heard someone say, “It’s not time for them to wake up yet. They still need more sleep!!” I remember thinking, what an interesting analogy to imagine that these little trees need sleep and rest just like we do. But as I pondered that comparison, the more it made perfect sense. We rest, recover, grow, and refresh during sleep, so why wouldn’t these little trees that grow leaves, buds, and fruit need that kind of downtime as well? Their “night” is the months of November, December, January, and February. We want them to sleep deeply when the temperatures are cold, the days are short, and the nights are drawn out and dark. And just like we need long stretches of good hard sleep, the peach trees need to have undisturbed rest as well. If cold winter days are interrupted with periods of warm weather, the trees get confused and think it's time to wake up. In much the same way that we perform poorly without enough sleep, peach trees are unable to produce good quality fruit if they suffer from lack of rest.
We are very grateful that our little peach trees are being allowed to slumber in the quiet, cool, tranquil moments of winter. We hope they are dreaming sweet thoughts of cobbler, preserves, and ice cream, and that they continue to enjoy their last few weeks of respite.
“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” John Steinbeck
From the Elves who packaged and shipped your gifts this Holiday season and the rest of our Pearson Farm FAMILY, we want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! We will be closed to celebrate this special time of year beginning Saturday, December 23, and will return on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 ready to embark on the adventures the new year has in store. We'll see y'all next year!!
Christmas has arrived at Pearson Farm!! Holiday baking is filling the Farm with wonderful scents. We are entering customer gift lists, and checking them twice. Our Pearson Farm elves are busy making beautiful gift boxes and tins full of delicious Flavored Pecans, Sweet Peach Jellies, Cinnamon Pecan Cakes , Pecan Pies and Decadent Chocolate Covered Pecans. We've got our own little North Pole experience happening right here in Zenith......so, I don't think it was a coincidence that we recently found this sweet little poem written by Mr. Al's grandmother many years ago. She simply titled it, "Santa Claus”
Of all the fairy tales I’ve known,
And there are quite a few,
The tale that deals with Santa Claus
Is one I know is true.
Some people doubt he really lives
And rule him out of season.
But not one skeptic I have heard
Can give sufficient reason.
Santa Claus does not fit in
With the logic of today;
He is the figment of a dream
Is what the skeptics say.
They can not search the minds of men
Or measure every heart;
For this is where his workshop is,
And good deeds get their start.
Santa Claus in truth does live-
This I surely know;
Because I’ve shared the warmth and love-
Of those who make is so.
Rosa Lee Pearson