How do those Georgia peaches get so deliciously juicy? It’s by no means easy.
“We work 12 months a year to harvest everything in a 90-day window,” said Sean Lennon of Fitzgerald Fruit Farms in Woodbury, Ga. “That 90-day window is pretty rough. We’ll work 16- to 18-hour days. I know a lot of growers aren’t like us, but we’re committed in getting the peaches from the tree to the consumer in three days or less. That three days is if we have to send them far away to places like Maine. To get them to Tennessee, we’ll do that in two days or less.”
Fitzgerald Fruit Farm will be supplying the peaches for a local fundraiser called Sweet Georgia Peaches. Any group that sells a box of fresh Fitzgerald peaches will get $10 donated to their organization from the $25 sale. Eight groups have signed up so far with more being accepted.
If you’d like to take part in the fundraiser, it’s by no means too late. Have a representative from your organization contact Brad Durham of BD Fundraising to get order forms. Durham can be reached at (615) 838-4426.
June 19 is the deadline to submit orders. The peaches will be delivered July 13.
In addition to helping a worthy nonprofit, school or church, the fundraiser will provide local residents with delicious peaches. One neat aspect of the Fitzgerald operation is the Georgia farm buys its peach trees from Warren County. The peach trees are bought 18 to 36 inches tall in December and January and planted annually. This year Fitzgerald Fruit Farm planted 18,000 peach trees.
Lennon says he buys the trees locally from Phillip Pelham at Cumberland Valley Nursery, Mike Vaughn at Vaughn Nursery, and Dale Bryan at Freedom Tree Farms. When the newly picked peaches are delivered to Warren County in July, they will have come full circle.
“I’d like to think Georgia peaches are the best in the country,” said Lennon. “Georgia and South Carolina are the biggest producers in the South. New Jersey is formidable, but the majority are grown in California.”
Picking the peaches is labor-intensive, which is why Fitzgerald Fruit Farms has 50 employees. All the pruning and picking is done by hand.
“None of the field work is mechanized,” said Lennon. “Each worker has a ladder and picks by hand.”
Lennon says he grows about 50 varieties of peaches. He said weather conditions will determine which variety is delivered to Warren County, but he says the July Prince is a good bet.
Anyone who wants to buy a box of peaches can order online at http://bdfundraising.com/peach-boxes.html. You can also stop by the Standard office at 105 College Street.