Family values on Hwy 82

Published 8:26 am Friday, June 11, 2010

Peaches breed the right kind of family businesses. On a rather enjoyable assignment Wednesday morning, ventured down U.S. Highway 82, where I visited each Chilton County peach stand I could find. There, I met just about each owner and the good people with whom they surround themselves to grow, harvest and sell their storied products.

Good luck finding a stand that isn’t operated by at least two family members, whether they’re married or related by blood. Men who began selling peaches on their daddy’s truck are surrounded by their grandchildren who happily spend their summers in the shade, protected from the blistering sun that assisted in the growth of their produce.

Make no mistake. These folks love what they do. One farmer told me it’d be impossible to do it for so long without having at least some affinity for the process. Walking through the nearby orchards, you see a hop in their step as the peak peach season rears its pretty head just around the late June corner.

They might be salespeople, but you never question their genuine nature to talk freely about what they do and why their peaches are so loved by their customers and themselves. Owners seem exceptionally content, as multiple generations not only improve their business but also their quality of life. What might make them happier than picking a perfect peach from their best tree that’ll contend for first place at the Peach Festival is seeing a child or grandchild take a big bite out of it.

Visiting Buddy Jones Fruit Stand, Lawley’s Chilton County Peaches, Paw Paw’s Peaches, Jimmie’s Peaches and Horn of Plenty teaches spoils you not only with the riches of another brilliant fruit harvest but also the importance of family values. Depending on what you do, working professionally with a loved one may or may not sound like your cup of tea. But whatever hesitation you have, the interaction between the folks on Highway 82 will challenge those feelings.