Who hasn’t made a u-turn at the sight of bubbly boiling peanuts in a black cauldron or baskets of fresh peaches or jars of jams? Around every highway turn, scribbled homemade signs of “Best Tomatoes” or “Homemade Jams” signal quality advice to the traveler, enticing a stop. And those big, red, juicy tomatoes shining in the sunlight scream Southern tomato sandwiches with Duke’s Mayonnaise. Who could pass that up?
Locals know the big box stores produce can’t hold a candle to what is locally grown or created. From roadside stands with only boiled peanuts to weekly farmers’ markets to those that have grown into larger operations, offering everything from baked goods to artisan furniture, it’s the community connection and word-of-mouth that drive the success of these roadside gems.
It is said that farmers’ markets originated in Egypt more than 5,000 years ago with trade rather than cash sales. In North America, they began around the 1700s, and with the improvement of transportation and roads in the mid-1900s, markets and roadside stands began to become a common sight. These make-shift shelters and small buildings have become a vital source of fresh, local and quality produced food.
Take a road trip into the mountains and discover these roadside stands. No U-turn necessary.
7M Family Farms
596 Crump Creek Road, Blairsville
A family operation, 7M combines naturally grown open-field farming, greenhouse and hydroponic techniques to grow year-round fruits and vegetables. The Farm Store is open year-round, overflowing with fresh vegetables and opportunities for seasonal U-picks.
Fourth-generation farmer and owner Dick Mills says, “We grow all the vegetables imaginable, offered to the public at below any retailers’ prices. Our prices have never changed since we opened our farm store in 2014.” They also cater to local restaurants that promote a farm-to-table experience, such as LongHorn Steakhouse. With the greenhouses producing year-round, fresh products are available no matter if they are out-of-season
“Our customers love knowing they can ask questions and get the answer direct from the farmer,” Mills states. “Being in the North Georgia Mountains, we have very fertile land. We are stewards of the land and our great community supports our farm year-round.”
The Farm Store and Peak Restaurant are open Tuesday through Saturday.
Online ordering available.
Seeing the greenhouse and hydroponic operations alone at 7M Family Farms is worthy of a trip to Blairsville. Afterward, stop in the restaurant and enjoy the fruits of the family’s labor. 7mfamilyfarms.com
Burt’s Pumpkin Farm
5 Burt’s Pumpkin Farm Road, Dawsonville
The history of this farm, whose story includes a liquor still and a country store, dates back to the 1800s. All in the family, grandson to patriarch John Crane, Johnny Burt decided it was pumpkins that would draw people to the beautiful North Georgia mountains. Selling 50 to 70 acres of pumpkins each year, the farm has grown into an experience for families each fall. They also offer farm products like baking mixes, butters and more. Online ordering available. burtsfarm.com
Fred’s Famous Peanuts
17 Clayton Road, Helen
It’s a country store that has welcomed visitors to Helen for the last 30 years. Fred and Dianne Jenkins began selling boiled peanuts, and it has grown into a market featuring their recipes for homemade products. As any good Georgian will know, it’s the boiled peanuts—regular or Cajun—that make Fred’s a must-stop. Other specialties include beef jerky, local honey, sorghum, cider, jellies, and salsa and sauces. Open daily. Online ordering available. fredsfamouspeanuts.com
5340 Cornelia Highway Alto 40081 Highway 441, Commerce
If you are native to North Georgia, you know Jaemor Farms. Since 1912, the Echols family has treasured hard work and family values. What began as a peach stand has morphed into an enterprise that welcomes more than a million visitors each year. Although it has grown substantially from a small farm stand, it continues to offer the freshest vegetables with that small stand feel. jaemorfarms.com
Hiawassee Fruit and Vegetable Market
814 N. Main Street, Hiawassee
A longtime resident within the city of Hiawassee, this market offers a wide selection of fruits and vegetables plus honey, firewood, flowers and flowering plants. Open daily from March through December, they serve the community as well as local restaurants. hiawasseemarket.com
Lazy J. Farms
1890 Lane Creek Road, Bogart
Open year-round, the farm welcomes families to visit each season when their offerings change. Selling only what is in season, everything is picked fresh. lazyjfarmfresh.com
Logan Berry Heritage Farm
2660 Adair Mill Road, Cleveland
This 60-acre farm dates back to the early 1800s and is still run by the Turner family.
Certified as a Pollinator Sanctuary specializing in preserving Appalachian Heritage Farmland, they use natural farming practices and consider themselves stewards of the land. Fifth-generation Sharon Turner Mauney, also known as Organic Rose, grows everything from strawberries to eggplant organically.
A seasonal market is open Thursday Saturday, and in August, experience the Garlic Festival. An online market is available. loganberryheritagefarm.com
233 Mitchell Road, Commerce
Merk Farms features seasonal produce as well as grass-fed beef. The veggie truck sits at the end of the driveway with tomatoes, zucchini, purple carrots and squash. They also sell at the Braselton Farmers Market. Get the latest farm news by searching “Merk Farms” on Facebook.
Mill Gap Farm
63 Mill Gap Lane, Tiger
For 12 years, Mill Gap Farm has operated chemical-free, sustainable farming methods. They feature heirloom vegetables and are members of the Northeast Georgia Locally Grown initiative. northeastgeorgia.locallygrown.net
5030 Highway 441 N, Rabun Gap
Open daily May through October, Osage Farm offers the freshest produce from Georgia and Florida. Fifth-generation farmer Ricky James, along with his grandpa, planted his first cabbage patch at 11 years old. Now, the farm specializes in heirloom and hybrid tomatoes, green beans, peppers, sweet corn, and yes, cabbage. This family-owned farm also grows Fraser Fir Christmas trees on Scaly Mountain and brings them to the stand on Thanksgiving Day. osagefarm.com
9945 Lakewood Highway, Mineral Bluff
The stand in Mineral Bluff is loaded with freshly picked produce, honey and eggs. In season, the apples and peaches arrive from the orchard. Other offerings include Amish jams and jellies, canned goods and moonshine pickles, a customer favorite. Get the latest stand offerings by searching “Podunk Produce” on Facebook.
Have a favorite roadside farm stand you would like to share?
Email us your favorite stop at [email protected].