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Produce stands bring farm-fresh food to area
by Savannah Borders
northsideintern@mdjoline.com
July 28, 2014 12:51 PM | 1738 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Tommy Smith adds a basket of blackberries to his roadside produce stand on Maple Drive in Buckhead. For 39 years Smith has been selling produce he buys from the Atlanta Farmers Market.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Tommy Smith adds a basket of blackberries to his roadside produce stand on Maple Drive in Buckhead. For 39 years Smith has been selling produce he buys from the Atlanta Farmers Market.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Buckhead resident Anna Mershon, right, chooses her vegetables with the help of Maple Drive produce stand owner Tommy Smith. Mershon’s family has been buying from Smith and his late father for many years.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Buckhead resident Anna Mershon, right, chooses her vegetables with the help of Maple Drive produce stand owner Tommy Smith. Mershon’s family has been buying from Smith and his late father for many years.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Tommy Smith’s black Labrador retriever, Dan, watches from the van as his owner sells produce to customers who enjoy saying hello to Dan as much as getting fresh, local produce.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Tommy Smith’s black Labrador retriever, Dan, watches from the van as his owner sells produce to customers who enjoy saying hello to Dan as much as getting fresh, local produce.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Maple Drive produce stand owner Tommy Smith, left, transfers squash to a bag for Althea Ouzts of Atlanta, who is a longtime regular at Smith’s stand.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Maple Drive produce stand owner Tommy Smith, left, transfers squash to a bag for Althea Ouzts of Atlanta, who is a longtime regular at Smith’s stand.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / A basket of blackberries waits to be taken home by a customer.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / A basket of blackberries waits to be taken home by a customer.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Produce stand owner Tommy Smith goes to the Atlanta Farmers Market in Forest Park as early as 3 a.m. seven days a week to find the best produce to sell at his stand on Maple Drive in Buckhead.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Produce stand owner Tommy Smith goes to the Atlanta Farmers Market in Forest Park as early as 3 a.m. seven days a week to find the best produce to sell at his stand on Maple Drive in Buckhead.
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With summer in full swing, Buckhead and Sandy Springs roadside produce stands are busy selling peaches, corn, tomatoes, zucchini and other fruits and vegetables to Atlantans.

Two stands located within a block of each other on Sandy Springs Circle, Hudson Produce at the Mount Vernon Highway intersection and Rick’s Farmer’s Market in the Sandy Springs Circle shopping center, are open year round but stay especially busy during the months of June, July and August.

Rick’s is a smaller division of the larger Rick’s Farmer’s Market, which has been a fixture in east Cobb since 1976.

Pamela Daly runs a produce stand on Wieuca Road near Roswell Road in Buckhead. She said she has worked there for two years and the business has been passed on from family to family for 30 years. Her uncle Charles Barette started the stand and passed it to his brother Billy before Daly took over.

Her seasonal produce stand, which sells primarily peaches and tomatoes she gets mostly from Barette’s farm in Barnesville, gets about 50 to 60 customers per day, Daly said.

“We really enjoy all of our customers that come here,” she said. “They’re like family.”

Daly said her produce stand only runs in the summer and this season has been a successful one.

“We have some of the greatest customers we’ve ever had,” she said.

The local produce stands rely on the fact that families have been visiting them for many years and the owners interviewed said most customers know them well.

In another area of Buckhead, on Maple Drive near Peachtree Road, a mother-daughter duo pull up to the produce stand to buy some corn, and tomatoes. Tommy Smith, the owner, greets them with a smile and tells them to come back again.

Atlanta resident Smith started this produce stand in 1975 on East Paces Ferry Road with his father, Hoyt Smith.

“It started … because I graduated from college and couldn’t find a job and had a student loan,” Tommy Smith said. “My father said, at least you’ll make enough to pay your loan back … and you see what I’m doing 39 years later. It turned into a good business.”

Hoyt Smith was a World War II veteran who grew up in Walton County who also worked in the plumbing repair business while running the produce stand. He died of pancreatic cancer in October.

“It’s just me now,” Tommy Smith said.

The stand moved to Maple 29 years ago, and has since become a popular location to pick up the freshest produce from farms all over the Southeast. Smith gets his produce from Osage Farms in Blairsville and farms in Whigham and Cairo, both in southwest Georgia, and Flat Top Farm Market in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn. He said he communicates directly with the farms to ensure his produce is local and in season.

“It’s just rewarding,” Tommy Smith said. “You get self-satisfaction from doing it. I like bringing good stuff to the people”

Editor’s note: The owner of Rick’s could not be reached for an interview. The market can be contacted at (770) 977-3031 or info@ricksfarmersmarket.com.
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