FACES & PLACES: Petals a temple to delicious fruit, beautiful flowers

Editor’s note: This story appeared in The Clanton Advertiser’s annual Faces & Places publication. Copies are still available at the the Advertiser’s office at 1109 Seventh St. N. in Clanton, or you can read the full publication online here.

When he isn’t writing his new book slated to debut at the end of this year or selling weekly produce at Pepper Place in Birmingham, Dr. Arlie Powell of Petals from the Past in Jemison works to create different varieties of fruit for others to enjoy.

“People enjoy eating what tastes good,” Powell said. “No one enjoys eating something that is hard as a rock and tastes terrible. That is why we are about the fruits that make your heart grow fonder.”

Powell, along with his wife Gwenn, son Jason and his wife Shelley and a group of employees at Petals from the Past, work to provide quality products for people living throughout Alabama.

Dr. Arlie Powell  along with his wife Gwenn, son Jason and his wife Shelley and a group of employees at Petals from the Past, work to provide quality products for people to enjoy.

Dr. Arlie Powell along with his wife Gwenn, son Jason and his wife Shelley and a group of employees at Petals from the Past, work to provide quality products for people to enjoy.

With a cool, wet spring, Powell said the produce season was off about two weeks compared to 2012.

“I think everything is on track now but we got a later start this year due to the cooler temperatures,” Powell said. “The whole Southeastern production area has been on a late production this season but I would say everything turned out just fine. Now it is just a matter of getting everything harvested.”

One popular event Powell’s business attends each week is the Pepper Place Farmers Market in Birmingham.

Employees from Petals from the Past will load up produce and sell at the farmers market with roughly 100 other vendors from Alabama.

Powell said Petals from the Past has had great success with the farmers market where hundreds of people will attend the market each Saturday morning to purchase locally grown foods.

“Farmers markets have emerged as a great way for people to connect with what they are buying,” Powell said. “People enjoy knowing where the food they are buying comes from as well as knowing it is fresh. Vine ripe always tastes better because people get tired of buying stuff that tastes like cardboard. Pepper Place serves a lot of people and is one of the finest farmers markets that is operated in the state.”

Powell explained that people purchasing items from the farmers market often purchase produce that tastes better than what can be found in a grocery store.

“When we take a product to the farmers market we have picked it that morning,” Powell said. “We give up shelf life for flavor because people like eating what tastes good.”

Although harvest season takes up the majority of his time, Powell spends the remaining hours of his day working on his self-help book for gardeners and small producers being published later this year.

“I am writing it based off of 15 years of experience at Petals,” Powell said. “I am writing it from personal experience of marketing and growing products. I am telling a story about what we are going to do with specific varieties and people will be able to gain application from what they read.”

Powell said he is currently working on the book every hour that he can devote to sitting down and writing which is often tough during the peak of production season.

“During this time of year it is tough to sit down and find a few hours out of the day to devote to the book,” Powell said. “I am excited for the book though because it will tell a story for the Alabama and southeastern gardeners if they have an inkling toward producing fruits.”

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