Why is there a line forming in the parking lot of a hardware store in a suburb of Columbus Ohio at 8:45 in the morning on a Friday in mid July? What is the pair of 24 foot trucks carrying that is generating such nervous excitement in the crowd? Whispers of, “Is there a limit?” and “What are you going to do with yours?” can be heard.
It all goes back to the early Spring. To the winter actually. To the very long harsh winter, and then to the spring when Ohio’s peach farmers discovered this year’s crop had been lost to the cold. I’m not going to lie–I cried. Not so much for my well-fed spoiled self who would dearly miss the local peaches. I also shed a tear for my favorite orchard, where they pour their heart and soul into their product. The family of farmers work so very hard, and sometimes despite their best efforts, things don’t go as planned. Their peaches have rock star status among my friends and neighbors. Their truck always has a line at the Saturday Market. I happily wait in the line. But not this year. (Not yet. Not until the apples come in.)
I guess my gradual transformation into a “locavore” who is more connected with my food and my farmers has an emotional cost. A few years ago, the news of a crop failure might have elicited an “Oh, that’s too bad.” from me, but I would have been comforted by the well stocked produce department in the supermarket. I mean, after all, it’s in season somewhere. Now I am pained if I see discouragement in the faces of my farmers, or if I read it in their social updates. With the purchase of a CSA share comes a closeness that I can’t really explain. It’s not even the anticipation or expectation of a return on my investment in the form of food for my table. I want the farmers to succeed. I love what they’re doing.
So, that is how I came to be in the parking lot, grateful, but a little conflicted, queuing up to buy Georgia peaches from The Peach Truck.
The young entrepreneurs responsible for this peach lifeline to Ohio have their own wonderful story. They are evangelists for the thing they love–legendary Georgia peaches, grown on a five generation family farm, using the best agricultural practices possible. By extension, for right now, they are my local growers. They embody the same spirit I admire in the farmers who live just a mile or two away from me. As for my favorite local orchard, their foresight and resilience has resulted in a bumper apple crop and plans for an autumn festival. Who knows? Perhaps these would have been overshadowed had there been a peach crop in Ohio this year. Weird how things work out sometimes. Weird how my thoughts wander while I wait in line for peaches.
Oh, and if you happen to be in Ohio, Kentucky or Tennessee, and if you would like to buy the Georgia peaches, check this: The Small Town Peach Tour, courtesy of The Peach Truck. They’re coming back soon!