Pearson Farm History

  • Nutty Fingers

    Pearson Farm is proud of our history and love to share stories of life on the Farm told by Mr. Al and his sisters.  Today, we are doing just that with a video from Ms. Peggy Pearson Jerles.

     

    THE NUTTY FINGER

    When I was in the second grade 72 years ago at the Zenith School, there was an accident that occurred during recess.  The old school house had indoor bathrooms but the access to them was outside.  On this particular day, a boy in my class went to the bathroom and upon leaving, slammed his finger in the bathroom door, cutting off the tip-end of his finger.  In 1946, the appropriate actions taken were very different from today.  The child was hurried off to the doctor but the finger was left behind, coming to rest on a Kleenex in the hand of Miss Lillie Maude Andrews, the first and second grade teacher. Since everyone in the school, grades 1 though 5, heard about the accident and were curious, Miss Andrews held the finger on the Kleenex while all 5 grades filed by and looked at it.  After the viewing, all of us trooped out to a big old pecan tree behind the school to bury the finger and say a prayer for the injured student.

    And now, just think, Pearson Farm is now selling "Nutty Fingers!"

    Peggy Pearson Jerles

  • My Daddy...... by Laurie Pearson DeMint

         

    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.

     

  • Pearson Prince Peach Path

    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.

     

    Click here to order your Pearson Prince Peach Subscription!

     

  • Santa Claus

    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

     

     

  • Progress

    PROGRESS is defined as movement toward a goal, growth or development. At Pearson Farm, we are defining it a tad more literally these days. Progress for us looks like expansion, addition and renovation. Suffice it to say that we have been BUSY!!! Most years the weeks between the end of peach season and the beginning of pecan season are filled with vacations and much needed rest and relaxation allowing us to power up for the busy holiday season. Not this year…. Mr. Al and his “construction crew” have been pouring concrete, tearing down walls, purchasing a variety of equipment, as well as adding windows and doors. Mr. Al spent hours drawing up sketches, measuring and measuring again. The "crew" pounded hundreds of nails, sawed at least that many boards and created more noise and dust than we ever imagined possible. But…… the finished product is absolutely incredible!!!! We more than doubled our mail order area, added a shelling plant on site and made many much needed upgrades to Mary’s Kitchen. In a year that we experienced so much worry and loss, Pearson Farm is choosing to celebrate PROGRESS. It has been a daily reminder that life keeps moving and we better keep moving with it. We are excited about this upcoming pecan season and can't wait to use our new facilities to create wonderful flavored pecans, cookies, cakes and pies. We are anxiously waiting to fill the new tables with boxes of pecans and gift tins that will be shipped to homes and businesses all over the country. But more importantly, we look forward to speaking with each of you as you prepare to send holiday gifts to your friends and family. We hope to speak with you soon!!

     

  • Let me tell you about my Dad

    This Sunday, June 18, we will be honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood. So, I decided to sit down with the Pearson dads, to discuss their fathers and the influence they have had on their lives and Pearson Farm……

    Mr. Al spent a short 29 years with his father but his guidance continues to have an impact today. I asked him to share with us a few things he learned from his dad……. “He was pretty good at balancing work and play. He enjoyed fishing, hunting and a little golf. I was allowed to tag along on many fishing and hunting trips. We were expected to work on the Farm in the summer but were allowed and encouraged to participate in school activities such as sports and literary during the school year..... He demanded respect for my mother!! He didn’t believe in just ‘hanging out’ …. if you didn’t have something to do, you came home.....He taught me to respect and appreciate the people who worked for us.......My father farmed through the depression and was deathly afraid of debt. This caused him to be very cautious. He taught us that money should be respected in bad times as well as good......The biggest impact he had on my life was teaching me that farming was more than a vocation, it was a lifestyle. Every aspect of our family revolved around farming. We lived, worked, played and worshiped on the Farm.” Some of Mr. Al’s fondest memories of his father were from their family vacations. “They were fun! Most were spent in Daytona Beach, Florida after peach season ended. Everyone was there, ready to relax and enjoy a little time with family and friends.” I asked Mr. Al if his father expected him to continue in the family business of farming. He was, after all, the 4th generation. It seemed likely that the expectation would have been assumed. However, that wasn’t the case. Mr. Al said, he was sure his father would have been proud that he and his sisters continued farming after he passed away, but he never felt pressure to farm. In fact, his father told Mr. Al that he would send him to school as long as he wanted to go. He had even stopped planting peach trees to focus on growing pecans. Something Mr. Al had started doing before Lawton came back home to farm.

    Like his father, Lawton went to college, met his wife and then came back to the Farm. Lawton’s farm life was different than Mr. Al’s in that he didn’t live on the Farm, but he did spend lots of time here. One of his favorite memories is of riding in the truck with his dad checking out the peaches. As they were creeping through a particularly narrow row, a branch that had bent back just as far as it could bend without breaking, all of a sudden snapped into the window and popped Lawton right in the face!!...... When I asked Lawton about lessons he has learned from Mr. Al, he really didn’t know where to start. “Lots, he said…..probably most important and something he has said so many times, True character of a man is determined by what he does when he thinks no one is looking"…. He also told me to "Be good to the trees and they’ll be good to you…..When you plant young trees, don’t just leave them alone…. touch their leaves, pinch the tips, love on ‘em a little.” Lawton says that he has always been involved with the Farm. As a young boy, riding around looking at trees with Mr. Al and helping out in the packing shed. As he grew older, he drove tractors and Mr. Al even gave him a caliper to track the growth of peaches for a 2- week span when he was 16. “Of course, he didn’t need me to do it but it made me feel important and I loved it”, Lawton told me. And when it came time for Lawton to go to college, he was encouraged to pursue whatever career, goal, or adventure he wanted. There was never any expectation that he should return to the Farm and he states the he never wanted the Farm to choose him. Being granted permission to pursue other avenues, actually gave him the choice to come back to the Farm. Lawton hopes that his children will be involved in the Farm but he will offer them this same empowerment, to follow their dreams. As for now, they will ride through the orchards in the truck with him, and learn lessons that have been handed down from the generations who worked and loved this dusty, red dirt of Pearson Farm.

    Just as I asked Mr. Al and Lawton about lessons learned from their dads, I asked Lawton's children to share things their daddy has taught them. I LOVE, LOVE their responses…. and I know you will too

    Adeline- “How to be brave... to hunt.... about peaches.... to love candy.... and to be kind to others”

    Cort- “How to pick peaches......how to tell if they are ripe or not....what a button peach looks like”

    Sutton- “He taught me about peaches but I forgot......be kind...... to fish.... to hunt......to be a good farmer..... and to be a good brother”

    For all you dad’s out there…..Pearson Farm wishes you all, a Very Happy Father’s Day!

               

    Mr. Al and his father             Mr. Al and Lawton              Lawton and Dooney

     

     

                                              

    Lawton with Cort and Adeline                          Lawton with Adeline and Sutton

     

     

     

     

  • The Old Hebron Church part 5

    We are within days of finishing up the renovations at the church. Just a few touches of paint, a light bulb or two and a final inspection are all that’s left. Mr. Al and I spent a little time together this week reflecting on this journey of the “salvation of the church” and looking toward what the future holds for Hebron.

    For Pearson Farm, the church building will provide space for employees to gather centrally as well as employee training. We will now be able to provide food safety programs, physical safety protocols and employee education meetings in a comfortable, climate controlled environment. The church will be open and available to provide a respite from work for weary employees. Pearson Farm now has a beautiful and large space to host industry meetings and luncheons (we are really looking forward to this 😊) For our community, Hebron will be available for a wedding, funeral, social gathering or meeting place. Last but certainly not least, the Hebron Church will be a place of worship.

    As Mr. Al shared his plans for the future of the church, he finished with the words, “I HOPE it will be used like this.” There was that word again... HOPE. It just keeps showing up. Whether it’s in Lawton’s eyes as he drives through the peach orchards surveying our 2017 peach crop, or in the words he and Mr. Al use as they share their projections for the crop with our Pearson Farm family, HOPE is the prevailing theme. “Dum Spiro Spero…..While I breathe, I HOPE”

    Romans 15:13 May the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in HOPE

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  • Old Hebron Church Part 4

    PROGRESS (noun prog-res; verb pruh-gres) a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage, growth or development, forward or onward movement……
    We started this JOURNEY with one goal in mind, saving the Old Hebron Church. We knew the PROGRESSION would be slow but the MOMENTUM would INCREASE as we made HEADWAY. It has been fun watching the EVOLUTION of this old building. The COURSE we have chosen has not always been an easy EXPEDITION. Some days have only seen a slow RISE in DEVELOPMENT while others, the PACE of GROWTH was quick. However, each day has brought us closer to our goal, the BETTERMENT of Hebron. The MOTION of the workers as they ADVANCE through each stage of the PROCESS is mesmerizing not to mention the DEVELOPMENTS that are UNFOLDING daily. We are taking a STEP FORWARD with each IMPROVEMENT. And as we give Hebron new life, we are giving a BOOST to Pearson Farm and our community. Hebron’s renewal is bringing a BUILDUP of Hope, a PROMOTION of Family and a MOVEMENT of Life to Pearson Farm……. Don’t you just love PROGRESS?

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