Durbin Farms: Fresh produce since 1933

Published 12:39 pm Thursday, July 21, 2016

Peaches are reloaded at the busy Durbin Farms Market, which has been serving fresh produce in Clanton since 1933. (Reporter photo)

Peaches are reloaded at the busy Durbin Farms Market, which has been serving fresh produce in Clanton since 1933. (Reporter photo)

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Staff Reporter

Since 1933 Durbin Farms has been serving fresh produce to families from New York all the way to Miami. Marvin and Marry Durbin started with a smaller fruit market on Highway 31 before opening the current Durbin Farms Market off of exit 205 on Interstate 65, in 1961.

The store, now owned by 53-year-old Danny Jones, offers a variety of vegetables and fruits, as well as 24 flavors of homemade ice cream, a sandwich shop and a small boutique for shoppers.

“Governor (George) Wallace actually went up to Mr. Durbin’s fruit market down 31 and brought him to this exact place and told him a major interstate is going right here,” Jones said. “So he bought this location because he knew his business was tourism with people going down to the beach.”

The very first dollar ever spent at this new location was framed and still hangs on the wall in the market’s café.

Jones has been running the market since 2005 and said he works seven days a week, waking up at 3 a.m. each morning to make runs to Birmingham to ship peaches to people in other states.

Durbin Farms grows their own peaches, plums, nectarines, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, and also make sure to source their vegetables from Clanton so they can keep everything fresh and local.

“The quality of the product and the people that work here are what make this place so special,” Jones said. “I don’t put up with nothing. I want to make sure we show people southern hospitality, since most of our visitors come from Tennessee north.”

Jones mentioned that at one point, maybe six years ago, he had 347 cars in his parking lot, which was built to hold 80.

“I remember about four or five years ago we ran into a cold snap and started running helicopters and wind machines to protect our peaches,” Jones said. “I dealt with a lot of local media and then at one point got a call from some people out of New York because so many of our peaches go there. They came down here and did an interview and shot footage of us flying the helicopters. It’s just great to see that we have that kind of reach.”

Farmers use helicopters to hover over their crops because the wind helps protect them from freezing. One helicopter alone can protect anywhere from 50-100 acres of land.

Durbin Farms Market is open 363 days a year from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., only closing for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Jones even said they open for half a day on Easter because they know as soon as people are done with church, they are back on the road traveling.

“June, July and August are by far our busiest times, as soon as kids get out of school just hang on, they’re coming.” Jones said. “It just lines up. I’ve seen people pull up to the gas station, put the nozzle in their tank and lock it, then they’ll walk over here to grab some lunch.”

If you’re headed north or south on Interstate 65 this summer, make sure to stop by, receive some southern hospitality and grab some fresh produce or ice cream from Durbin Farms Market in Clanton.