Georgia Peaches and Pecans | Pearson Farm
please enjoy this guest post from Mr. Al Pearson.....
My office (peach and pecan orchards) is always pleasant, especially in the fall. But usually, pecan leaves just turn brown and fall off. Peach leaves vary in their final days, but seldom make a color statement. But not in 2016! The dry weather has given us colors that rival Gingko trees and it has been exciting to watch. If the leaves did this every year, I’m sure the roads would be crowded with “Leaf Lookers” enjoying the sights. Being “FAMILY” Friday, we decided to include a Pearson Family History from an article in the Georgia Post several years back…..
THE PEARSON FARM: growing peaches for 125 years
The Pearson farm has been in operation at Zenith and Lee Pope for 125 years. Its genesis dates back to 1885 when Moses Winlock Pearson purchased his first farmland and began growing peaches. In 1880, Moses (1858-1906) married Emma Carroll (1858-1934), their union producing 12 children: 6 boys and 6 girls. The 1900 census showed that the Pearson and Lee families were neighbors and their children would have played together. Moses died prematurely in 1906 at age 48, leaving Emma with a farm to manage and a large family to raise. John Winlock Pearson, the oldest child, age 24 at the time, assumed the burden of replacing the void created by his father’s untimely death, and keeping the farm profitable during difficult times. In 1915, John and his brother Oscar bought Lee Pope Fruit Company and began packing peaches under the “Big Six” brand label—named after Moses and Emma’s six boys: John, Oscar, Walter, William, James, and Clyde.
John Winlock Pearson (1881-1958) married Rosa Lee Hartley (1187-1976). Their marriage produced three boys (Lawton, Russell, and Willard) and two girls (Virgie and Tina). Lawton’s peach packing shed was located near the railroad at Lee Pope; Willard and Russell’s in Fort Valley on the present site of the Harvey’s Grocery Store. When Lawton’s packing shed burned in 1961, he packed peaches in Fort Valley at Russell and Willard’s shed and continued for the next 13 years.
In 1937, Lawton Pearson (1912-1979) married Laurie Lanier (1915-1981). The “Big 6” farmland was owned by their three children, Peggy Pearson Jerles, Ann Pearson McGehee, and Al Pearson from 1973 to 2008. In January 2008, Al and Lawton Pearson took over the farm operations as “Pearson Farm.” A mail order business was created to ship peaches, pecans, and seasonal gifts to individual and corporate customers. The Pearson farm comprises 1300 acres of peaches and 2300 acres of pecans. Bill McGehee (Ann’s husband and their son, Will, manage marketing operations for both peaches and pecans. The old Zenith School (established circa 1900 and closed in late 1940s) became the packing shed for “Big 6” in 1975 and is still in use.
I spent some one on one time with Rosa and Alberto earlier this week gathering information for the second part of their post. As I sat with Rosa in her backyard, I was compelled to jot down these few words, Humble, Gentle, Beautiful, Loving, and Strong. The words were written to remind me of certain aspects of our interview but as I sat down to finish the story, these 5 words became her story. From the quiet, unassuming way she sat patiently listening to Israel and me speak about her family, came HUMBLE and GENTLE. I imagine this was the same way she waited for her husband to return home after months of traveling and working to provide for their ever growing family. There was an occasional nod when she understood my English words but mostly just that same sweet expression. I’m sure her children have seen that same look many times as she has taken great care of them over the years. I found myself drawn to her BEAUTIFUL face. Every line telling a story of sacrifice, hard work, and commitment. Her eyes that danced when she spoke of her husband and children. Especially when she told me how glad she was when they were finally all together again and of the incredible pride she feels for her children today. But I was mostly enamored with her STRONG arms that wrapped Israel in the sweetest birthday embrace. The LOVE was palpable. I felt blessed when she wrapped those arms around me as we left that day. What a morning it had been already……
We found Alberto riding around in his truck checking on peach trees. He was ringing with sweat. I told him that he must be working too hard but with a little smile, he quickly replied that it was just too hot. I asked him if as a young boy, he ever imagined that his life would look like it does today. He shared that after his father died, he began looking for ways to better himself and be an example for his brother. From the times he spent at the drive- in theater learning English to signing papers at the American Consulate agreeing to never be a burden on the United States, his main focus was always “looking for the right way. Many of those lessons he learned from the men in his life back in Mexico while many others were gleaned as he moved from state to state working and watching others. With tears in my eyes, I said the one thing I have waited weeks to say to him, “I know you must be so proud of the life you and Rosa have provided for your family and how successful each of your 8 children are today." His response was simple, “Thanks, maybe I planted a seed for them to follow.” Maybe?? I believe he definitely planted a seed and one that has grown roots as deep and strong as the trees that are planted here at Pearson Farm.
As I thanked him for allowing me to highlight his family and their journey, he left me with these words for Mr. Al……. “I am infinitely grateful to the Pearson’s. From the very beginning, they took us into their life as if we were their family”……… Pearson Farm LOVES our “FAMILY”
I want to thank all the people who have taken the time to follow our Pearson Farm page and read our stories. We have thoroughly enjoyed all your comments and posts. As peach season has come to an end, we will be taking a short hiatus to rest, relax and rejuvenate as we prepare for pecan season. We will pick up with our FAMILY posts in October. Don’t stop visiting however, we will be posting many pictures of what’s happening around the farm as we prepare for pecans. See you soon......
He’s 26 years old, and he and his brother have been working to support their family since the death of their father 9 years ago. The brothers look for work and do odd jobs to provide food for themselves and their mother. One day there's word of a program in California that is allowing immigrant labor to cross the border and help farmers since so many locals are away at war. They are able to locate a farm and begin working and saving money to bring back home. Finally, they have enough to buy a small plot of land in a small village in Mexico. They begin preparing the land and digging a well that they will use to make the adobes for their new home.
She’s 22, living in a small village in Mexico with her family. Her job is to find the daily water supply. Most days she must walk long distances. One day 2 young men show up on the land next door. She watches them from a distance as they begin preparing the land and digging a well. Water was so scarce and this well was so close, she begins thinking that surely they wouldn’t miss a few buckets. So she watches and waits till they aren’t around, then slips over and draws a bucket of water from their well.
And thus the game begins….he works and she watches….until one day, she isn’t quite as careful as usual and he walks up on her as she was drawing the water, she is so startled and when he asks what she is doing…… she nervously apologizes, telling him that she is just getting a little water and that she will dump it back in the well……. he tells her that she can keep it and that she is welcome to get water from his well every day. Their eyes have crossed and the rest is history….. Today, he’s 85 and she’s 81 and they have just finished another peach season at Pearson Farm. Rosa and Alberto and their children have been a huge part of the Pearson Farm Family as well as the peach industry in Middle Georgia for the past 30 years.
Their farming experience is extensive but more impressive than their knowledge of agricultural practices is their sense of family. The brothers along with their mother have lived and traveled together their entire lives. The brothers married sisters and between the two families, had 15 children. In the early ‘70’s, the brothers petitioned for visas for their families to travel to the United States with them, and in 1974, they moved to Florida to begin work in the citrus groves. After years of traveling up and down the east coast in pickup trucks as migrant workers in tobacco fields, peach and apple orchards, cucumber and blueberry patches, they eventually end up at Pearson Farm looking for work after the Florida’s citrus crop was destroyed by a late frost. Does this sound familiar??? It should, remember Israel and Maribel that we highlighted earlier during the year? They are the 2 of Alberto and Rosa’s children who currently work at Pearson Farm but what you might not know is that every one of their 8 children along with Alberto’s brother, Rosa’s sister and their 7 children have at some time over the past 30 years drawn a pay check from Pearson Farm. Family working with Family working with Family…..check back with us next week as we continue their story……..
This has been my first full summer at Pearson Farm in many years, and it has definitely been a summer to remember. Long, hot days filled with the sights and sounds of the peach packing house, afternoon snacks of sweet, juicy peaches and more smiling faces than I could begin to count. We have guests show up who are just passing through, locals who need peaches for canning and baking, truck drivers picking up loads of peaches to carry across our great country and still others who come just to sit in our rocking chairs and enjoy a bowl of our delicious peach ice cream. Many are first time guests, and many more are repeat customers, but I have to admit, that the ones that show up every Tuesday morning about 10:00 am have come to be my favorites. My heart gets a little flutter when I see that grey van pull in the parking lot because I know the back is loaded down with peaches and the sweetest man is sitting in the passenger seat. The first time I met Mr. Otis, I felt an instant connection, a kindred spirit. He has a heart for children, a heart for the needy, a heart for the lonely…….he has a servant’s heart.
As I have gotten to know Mr. Otis and the lovely ladies, Janet and Becky, who bring him every week, I quickly realized that he is surrounded by human angels. I could never begin to tell you what an impact that this man and these women have had on their community. Suffice it to say, that through their gift of gardening, they have changed the hearts and lives of thousands of men, women, and children throughout their community, and they have definitely left their mark on the heart of the Pearson Farm “FAMILY.”
Every Tuesday morning during peach season, his grey van, along with many pickup trucks, arrive to be loaded with boxes and boxes of peaches to take back to Fayetteville and the surrounding communities. Pearson Farm has been donating these peaches to Mr. Otis and his band of angels for a few years now. Due to strict sale standards by grocery stores, we have a small percentage of our peaches that cannot be sold commercially. There is nothing wrong with them, they just have no shelf life and need a “ready to eat” home. The partnership between Pearson Farm and these folks has been like a marriage made in heaven.
Earlier this season, Mr. Al and I followed their convoy back to Fayetteville so we could see firsthand where the peaches were going. To say I was humbled, would be an understatement. The work these amazing people are doing in their community is nothing short of God sent. Our first stop was a church whose freezer was filled with boxes of peaches for their food pantry. In the church parking lot, a car was loaded for the sweetest lady who told us stories of the peach cobblers and dinners her group makes to feed the homeless on a street corner in Griffin every Friday night. We spent time at yet another church watching volunteers filling sack lunches that would be delivered in a local neighborhood to feed at-risk children. We then went to Mr. Otis’ home where we witnessed cars and trucks pull in and pick up peaches that were being delivered to childrens group homes, senior adult centers, food banks and homeless shelters, and we ended our day at the Real Life Center, an incredible program serving families in Fayette County. We shook hands and hugged men and women who thanked us over and over again….… they were thanking us??? I have to admit, after what we had witnessed, we were embarrassed that these people who are giving so selflessly were thanking us ....for some peaches.
As this peach season draws to a close, I will certainly miss these weekly visits from Mr. Otis, Janet and Becky, and I will look forward to next May when that grey van makes its way back down to Pearson Farm. Mr. Otis called last week and told me that he was writing a thank you letter to Pearson Farm, and he wanted me to post it. Honestly, I was hesitant because I know that Mr. Al and Lawton also belong to the human angel population and provide these peaches as an act of true servitude. Their motivation is from a place of God-centeredness not self-centeredness. They want no attention or reward and would never want any recognition that would take away from the work Mr. Otis and his people are doing. However, because #1, I couldn’t tell Mr. Otis No, #2, it gave me an opportunity to share just a little bit about the incredible work he and his group are doing for their community and #3, I am so proud of the Pearson Farm “FAMILY”, I decided to make it this weeks “FAMILY” post. Thank you so much Mr. Otis, Janet, Becky and the rest of your wonderful volunteers! The Pearson Farm “FAMILY” is honored…..let me say it again, we are HONORED to be associated with you and to be able to offer a small contribution to the enormous work you are doing for your community. Most importantly, we feel blessed that we can call you a part of our “FAMILY.”
Dear Al and the Pearson Farm Family group,
We have come to the end of another amazing peach season. Your generous contribution of 48,600 peaches during the summer of 2016 has put peaches into the mouths of at least 20 plus shelters, homes and food banks that we supplement with vegetables and melons from our Plant a Row for the Hungry initiative.
The following is a partial list of those the Pearson Farm have helped to feed fresh, beautiful peaches:
Christian City Children’s Home (48 children)
Murphy Family – 17 special needs children adopted from foster care
Five Loaves and Two Fishes food bank Griffin, GA
Fayette County Youth Protection Home
Fayette County Battered Women’s Shelter
Calvary Refuge Center in Forest Park – homeless shelter for women and children
Clayton County Senior Adults in financial need
2400 school lunches program for children identified as at risk
Griffin Women’s shelter
Wellspring –shelter for women trying to escape prostitution
Carver Road Baptist Church food pantry Griffin, GA
Pleasant Grove Church food bank in Jackson, GA
Vineyard Church food bank in Senoia, GA
Share the meals for the homeless in Griffin, GA
New Hope Baptist Church food bank Fayetteville, GA
Real Life Center Food Bank Peachtree City, Ga
Samaritan’s Food Bank Fayetteville, GA
Fayetteville First Baptist Church homebound ministry
The Pearson peaches are a special treat for these people. The peaches add a new dimension to our distribution. Most of these children and many of the adults have never had a tree ripened fresh peach. It is a special blessing to see their joy as they receive your gift. All the Pearson Farm employees have been extremely helpful in supporting this project. We are so grateful and humbled by your support.
Everyone leaves a footprint. The Pearson Farm family footprint is very large and pointing in the right direction.
Otis Lester Bray
Before I get started, I’d like to thank Mr. Al for helping me out last week with our FAMILY post. Didn’t he do a great job and what an interesting piece of Pearson Farm family history!! Thank you so much Mr. Al, you did great!! I was out last week helping my husband and his siblings as they navigated through the difficult steps of saying a final goodbye to their beloved father, Marshall Young. A recurring theme during a week filled with visits and calls from family, friends, customers, and team mates was his influence on their lives. Whether it was help with groceries on a week when someone’s check was short, a lesson in respect for an unruly bus rider, a free throw tip for a young basketball player or simply a hug for one of his grandchildren, stories of his influence were all around……..
This is Chris’ third peach season here at Pearson Farm. Like so many others, he falls under the multigenerational employee column as he is Vicki’s son. He also spent many summer vacations out here making boxes, working in #2 sales and even spent some time in our retail. I hear he worked hard one summer perfecting our delicious ice cream recipe. Today, he drives a forklift and loads the trucks that bring our sweet, juicy peaches to grocery stores, farmers markets and fruit stands all over the country. During pecan season, he is back on the fork lift in the pecan cleaning plant. His favorite time out here on the farm is the “in between” months. It is then that he can be found on a tractor mowing or spreading fertilizer. He enjoys being out in the orchards, experiencing nature at its best.
Chris came to work here after several years working on a different kind of farm. I spent some time with Chris this week preparing for his post, and I learned that he has done all kinds of farming. He tells me that he LOVES it!! And you know what?? I believe him! I wish I had a video of his face as he told stories of spending time with his grandfather working with him in his garden and describing what he grows in his own garden. He made statements like, “I am fascinated with the growing process” and “the progression of growing is such a mystery.” I asked him where he thought that LOVE of farming came from. After everything I’d been through last week, his answer struck a serious cord with me. He told me he thought it was his grandfather. He is a hardworking man who spent many years working in the kaolin industry, but he always had a huge garden at his home. As a child, Chris spent a lot of time with his grandfather in that garden watching and learning. His grandfather has been a huge influence in his life and nurtured a work ethic and LOVE of farming that Chris carries with him today. Chris is working hard to provide for his fiancé and her 2 children and he is hoping to be that kind of influence on them.
Listening to Chris talk about his grandfather, sensing Chris’s desire to be a good influence to the children in his life and hearing all the stories about Mr. Marshall has made me stop and think about the kind of influence I am on others. I hope one day people will tell stories about me like Chris’ grandfather and Mr. Marshall. I know one thing for certain, you can never underestimate the impact that your story has on others and here at Pearson Farm, we feel lucky to have Chris out here doing what he loves, and we are proud that he is part of our story…..
The Pearson Farm Family goes way back and includes far off relatives who came to help during peach season. We found a letter from the 1930’s from my mother’s brother, Dan Lanier, to his parents in Metter, Georgia detailing his first week packing peaches with his older brother Albert. The days were long and hot and fuzzy, but it was a job and those were hard to come by in those days. Young boys and girls learned to work, to stick to it, to value a dollar. Hope you enjoy this “FAMILY” Friday post.
(Angela took the week off)
Sun afternoon on the school-house bench in the yard
Monday morning we got up bright and early. We dressed and ate breakfast. We got in the car and started for Lee Pope. Lawton & Laurie went right to work. We stood around awhile and finally talked to Poppa John. He said for us to go upstairs and Mr. Lunksford put us to work picking up trash which was a very tiresome job. We worked for about and (sic) hour and met all the boys. After a while a man came upstairs. He said he needed a boy downstairs. Mr. Lunksford sent me. I went downstairs and started picking up peaches and trash. Fuzz got my poison ivy and I couldn’t keep from crying. Finally dinner came. We ate dinner at the hotel but I don’t remember what it was. That afternoon Lawton got me put upstairs. I picked up trash for a while and then I slid baskets down a choot (sic) until supper. We had little fried bacon for supper like daddy likes. We had butterbeans, rice and gravy. I slid baskets down the shute (sic) 11:00 o’ clock that night. Poor Albert had toted tops and skinned his legs. We went to the car with Laurie and waited for Lawton to get through. Albert and I had worked about 14 ½ hours. We washed some and went to bed. Tues. we woke up early and went to Lee Pope. Albert went to work picking up trash and I slid basket (sic) down a shute (sic). Dinner came after we’d worked about 5 or 6 hours. As we were going to the hotel to eat we told Laurie we were getting use (sic) to work and were not as tired as we were Monday dinner. After dinner we went to work agin (sic). Albert picked up trash and I slid baskets. We worked until dinner. We ate dinner and rested. We worked till supper and after we got in the tub and went to sleep. We got up early and went to Lee Pope. Mr. Lunksford our boss wasn’t there. Our new boss Oscar Jr. was the best mean at Laurie’s wedding (sic). Albert and I stacked tops all day. Our boss Oscar Jr. quit that night. We stacked tops Thurs. and Fri. We got a new boss who was one of Laurie’s pupils. Sat. we got up early and went to work. We worked until dinner and wasn’t tired. We worked until supper and it was time for pay envelopes. They gave it out in alphabetical order. I was glad when L’s were given out. Finally they called my name. I stepped that way in a trot. On the front it said Dan Lanier 58 hours at 10 cents an hour $5.80 an boy I like to cried for joy (sic). I went to sleep in high spirits. We didn’t wake up till nine o’clock (sic) and was almost late for Sunday school.
P.S. Tell Jewel Bird to write to us personally.
I am super excited about this weeks “FAMILY” post. I have to admit that this sweet girl is one of my favorites. I’ve known Sarah since she was in kindergarten with my daughter and they became good friends. They spent 13 years in school together and graduated last year. Sarah, like my daughter just completed her first year of college and is getting ready to return in a few short weeks. As soon as peach season is over, she’s got a big vacation planned with her family before she heads out to St. Jude for a special project she’s working on with them…..
As a mother of 3 strong, healthy, beautiful children, I cannot imagine being told that one of them has cancer but that’s exactly the words Sarah’s parents were given on that fateful October day in 2000. Their blonde headed, green eyed baby girl was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia better known as AML. This cruel cancer usually saves itself for middle aged men, so for a 3 year old baby it’s considered extremely rare. She spent a week in a local hospital but when her doctors felt she needed more care than they were capable of providing, they quickly sent her to St. Jude. For 6 months, she moved back and forth between a hospital room and the Ronald McDonald House as she underwent chemotherapy. It was a tough road for Sarah’s family. Thankfully, the treatments worked and Sarah returned home cancer free and she remains cancer free today!
Sarah works in our retail during peach season. She spends her days helping customers, selling peaches and making some of the best peach and butter pecan ice cream around. This is her third summer at Pearson Farm and last December she spent her Christmas holidays working with us in our mail order department. She enjoys being here because it is close to home and she really enjoys the customers. I asked Sarah what brought her to Pearson Farm to work. She thought for a minute, shrugged her shoulders and said, “I guess I just thought it was my turn.” I laughed because that was exactly what I was thinking. Sarah’s dad had worked at Pearson Farm during his high school summers, and her Uncle Eric works here now. He spent time during high school and college on the Farm but then left for a while. He has since come “HOME” and is now one of our Farm Managers. You would think these family ties would be enough to encourage Sarah to carry on the family tradition but it was really Sarah’s grandfather’s time at Pearson Farm that made her want to “take her turn.”
Mr. James became a fundamental figure at Pearson Farm during peach season and at a local pecan cleaning plant during the fall/winter months after he retired from the post office. He worked these seasons for both companies for many years. Literally up until the day he died. I knew Mr. James well and often wondered if he had planned to spend his retirement days working in peaches and pecans or if it was just one of the many projects he was asked to help with that he just couldn’t say “no” to. Sarah remembers him bringing her to the Farm as a little girl and playing around in the packing shed while he worked. His summers here were spent running the Hydro cooler but he was known more for his handyman and building skills. His craftsmanship is seen all over the packing house. I can’t help but find it incredibly ironic that the very counter Sarah works behind today was one of the last projects he completed.
Sarah is such a hard worker and always willing to go out of her way to help others. Her sweet spirit and caring attitude is seen by all who meet her. These attributes along with her dedication and that beautiful smile will help her be the best pediatric nurse around. Sarah dream job is return to St. Jude to work. I’m sure those nurses made quite an impression on her as she fought for her life all those years ago. She makes the trek back to Memphis every year for tests and reunions but this year the trip is going to be a little different. She will be participating in a research project that looks at the long term effects of chemo therapy. Just another opportunity for Sarah to use herself to help others. I am personally so proud of Sarah and everything she has accomplished in her life so far and can hardly wait to see her next chapter unfold for I know it will be special one. And out here at Pearson Farm...well....we just feel blessed every day that this blonde haired, green eyed baby girl walks in our door.
hen I was in high school, many local teens spent their summer days working in a packing shed. The talk around the lunch table those last few weeks before summer break was which shed you would be working for. Some would be at Pearson and Lane, many at Duke's and still others, like myself would spend those hot summer days and many nights out here at Pearson Farm (known back then as Big 6.) These packing houses would be full of teenagers making boxes and box tops, working in culls and on the loading docks. Packing sheds counted on these young people for their seasonal help and the community supported that by arranging the school schedules to coincide with the peach packing season. With changing labor regulations, advancements in technology, and the automation of many jobs in packing houses, coupled with changing school calendars, local teenage workers in a packing shed are really a thing of the past. We usually have a handful of college kids who work in our mail order and retail departments and almost all of our H2A workers are young but local young people in the packing house are few and far between. This year Pearson Farm has been blessed with one of those in between years.
Let me introduce Sherman. He is a local boy spending his summer vacation working in our packing shed. He, like those of us back in the day, will be headed off to college at the end of the summer to pursue a degree in engineering. He is working in the shed to make money to help fund his upcoming college experiences that will hopefully include many hours on a football field. He is working on Gary’s crew building boxes, working on the tray/pack line and cleaning up the packing house. He works long, hot days in this packing shed building character and calling on a work ethic that is sometimes difficult to find these days.
For those of us that spent summer days in a packing shed, our time “working in peaches” seemed more like a rite of passage than a summer job. Packing house owners, farmers, and our parents expected that the sheds would be full of teens and young folks working long, hot days also working on our character and a work ethic we would hopefully carry with us for years.
It has been a joy to see Sherman’s young face here this summer and we have certainly benefited from his strong back and arms. Like myself and so many others, Sherman is learning lessons from these long, hot days “working in peaches” that are strengthening his foundation. While he is bolstering his character and fortifying that work ethic, he is preparing for success in the college classroom, football field, and the rest of his life. Pearson Farm is proud to have Sherman here as he experiences this “rite of passage” and we wish him the best of luck as he goes off to school this fall!!
Our peach packing operation is comprised of a series of steps that take peaches from our trees and delivers them to your table. These steps include hand picking the peaches from the trees and placing them into bins that are brought to the packing house and run through the hydra cooler to remove the field heat. The bins are then placed in the cold room until they are ready to be run through the packing process. We have a daily operating plan that includes which peach variety and the number of bins we plan to run each day. In a typical day, we will run about 300 bins.
The packing house process starts when the fork lifts bring the chosen bins to the “Dumper” who dumps the peaches into water for a final washing before they are placed on the belt that takes them to the graders. Many farms today have automated machines that perform the “Dumper” job but not here at Pearson Farm. Vince is our “Dumper” and he has been here dumping peaches for 15 years. You might say he is an expert “Dumper.” It is his job to line up the bins, direct them to the shoot and dump them into the washer. Each bin has been tagged in the field with the date, orchard, and variety picked. Vince pulls these tags and uses them to make his daily report. The information he records allows us to keep up with our inventory, know how many bins we are running per hour and how we are progressing on our daily operating plan. This report is looked at numerous times during the course of day by our packing house supervisors, sales manager as well as Lawton and Mr. Al.
I saw Vince for the first time standing up on his perch high above the grading line on the first day of packing this peach season. He was looking out over the line waving his arms much like a maestro leading an orchestra. I found out later that he does these hand signals over the line daily. He’s well known for them. During our interview, I asked him to share with me what his signals meant and why he does them. He tells me that since the plant is so loud, he uses hand signals to let the workers on the line know what is happening. He signals things like “Let’s Roll” to start the day, “No Màs” when there are no more peaches to run or when there is a break to make a change in the process, and he has a special signal that lets everyone know when it's “Time to Go.” He says the workers always smile or laugh at his unique way of communicating but they always understand.
In a world where so many people are being replaced by computers, Pearson Farm has chosen to keep the “Dumper” job a little less automated because of Vince. He is only a seasonal employee for Pearson Farm working during peach seasons so we look forward to his call every year to find out when he needs to report to work. He is an incredibly dependable and loyal employee. Vince has only missed a handful of days in his 15 years here and those were due to a family emergency. I really enjoyed my time with Vince this week and loved watching him interact with his co-workers here at the Farm. It is easy to see why we chose to forgo the computerized route….... Why in the world would you want a cold, emotionless piece of machinery…. when you can have a Maestro!
Hugo was following in his father’s footsteps when he came to work at Pearson Farm. He had been working construction and landscaping jobs in his hometown of Zacatecas. His father had been working at Pearson Farm for over 18 years and Hugo knew that one day he would have a family and would want to be able to take care of them as his dad had taken care of him and his sisters. So in 2011, Hugo made his first trip to Pearson Farm to work peach season.
Nancy came to Pearson Farm to work the 2012 peach season with her sister and brother in law. Nancy is from a small village in Jalisco but she was no stranger to traveling to work between Mexico and the United States. This was however, her first trip to Pearson Farm.
The two met here at the Farm and quickly became friends. They would talk during break and lunch times and see each other at gatherings on their days off. Nancy liked Hugo, he was so sweet and caring. Hugo thought Nancy was beautiful…. And so what started as a friendship, turned into a summer romance. All too soon, peach season came to an end and Nancy had to return to her home in Mexico. Hugo was working here full time and living on the Farm so they continued their relationship long distance during the fall and winter by talking on the phone almost daily and writing letters making plans for Nancy’s return the next peach season.
Nancy came back for the 2013 season and they picked up right where they left off. Breaks and lunches while they worked, movies, dinner and shopping on their days off. When peach season ended, she decided to stay on and work pecan season too. When the season was over, Hugo accompanied Nancy to her hometown for Christmas and to meet her family. Nancy’s birthday was coming up at the end of the year and Hugo had big plans to make the day extra special…..his wedding proposal made it a day they will never forget. At the first of the year, Nancy returned with Hugo to Pearson Farm all the while, making plans for their wedding. During their vacation time at the end of December 2014, they were married in her hometown in Mexico. They returned in 2015 with plans to make the United States their home. They moved in with Hugo’s father and both continued working at Pearson Farm.
Today, they are still here working hard. Nancy works as a peach and pecan grader and Hugo runs our box line during peach season and drives a tractor and other farm equipment during pecan season. They are expecting their first child in October. Hugo is relieved to be here where he feels that his family is safe and blessed to have a job that allows him to provide for his growing family.
I wonder if either of these two young people ever imagined that they would find true love in a fuzzy, sweet, packing house located on the rusty, old dirt of a farm in Zenith, Georgia?? Hugo and Nancy, we are so happy that you found your way to Pearson Farm and to each other. We can hardly wait to meet your sweet baby!!