AKRON — If you see a crew of people in gray shirts with “The Peach Truck” written across the back unloading pallets of peaches from a semi truck outside a farmers’ market this summer, you’re witnessing part of Steven and Jessica Rose’s vision: to bring Georgia peaches to homes across the nation.
Steven Rose grew up in Peach County, Georgia, and spent most of his summers on a peach farm. When he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 2010, he was disappointed with the peaches the city had to offer. So, in 2012, he and his wife, Jessica, started transporting peaches from his hometown peach farm in Fort Valley, Georgia, to sell in Nashville.
They sold 10 tons of peaches in five weekends.
Now, they sell peaches in Nashville over the summer, while their tour director, Rick Haley, and his crew travel to cities around the country on The Peach Truck Tour, which recently came through Akron.
By 2:45 p.m. July 23, the parking lot in front of Graf Growers in Akron is full. Crew members unload the truck, a semi filled with pallets of peaches.
Customers start lining up, directed by other crew members who hand out stacks of coupons and explain the process and the products available: Georgia peaches, a peach recipe book and pecans.
“This is our last time here this summer,” a crew member announces.
The Peach Truck Tour already came through Akron once earlier in the summer. On tour, the peach truck makes 320 stops in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas and Florida, over the course of 10 summer weeks.
Haley says some stops bring out 1,200-1,500 customers, who can go through more than an entire semi’s worth of peaches in the two hours the truck remains at one location.
“It’s not uncommon to run out,” Haley says.
Throughout the tour, a farm in Georgia re-supplies them every day with fresh peaches. The peaches are brought to customers on the tour within 48-72 hours of picking.
“It’s a logistical nightmare, but it’s totally worth it,” Haley says.
There are actually three trucks, with about 20 crew members split into two teams, allowing the tour to stop in two locations at once. Most of the crew members are college students, there to make money and see the country over summer break.
While customers wait in line, crew members scan their credit cards and hand out tokens indicating what each customer paid for. They tell customers the peaches, packed inside orange 25-lb boxes, will still be firm and will need two or three days at room temperature to fully ripen.
“The grocery stores around here just don’t have very good peaches,” says Gina Walker of Akron, who arrived to pick up peaches with her young children. “To me, it’s worth the extra effort.”
While some peach-enthusiasts prefer to buy from local fruit farmers, this is Walker’s third time visiting the peach truck, and her second time this summer.
A crew member holds up a green peach. It is one of his favorite varieties.
“Don’t wait for the color to change,” he warns customers.
This variety does not turn yellow or orange, like the peaches most people are familiar with.
Because the peaches are fresh and resupplied every day, Haley never knows for sure what varieties he will have each day.
“We get what’s ripe that day,” he says.
Kelly Hershberger, a young woman in blue scrubs, made a 20-minute drive from Wadsworth, Ohio, to meet the truck for the first time after hearing about it on Facebook.
“I heard they were fresh-picked from Georgia,” she says. “I thought I’d try some Georgia peaches.”
For anyone interested in visiting The Peach Truck Tour, it appears the tour will stop in a few more Ohio and Pennsylvania locations in August. Ohio locations include Mason, Cincinnati and Milford Aug. 3; and Columbus, Upper Arlington and Dublin Aug. 4. Pennsylvania locations include Natrona Heights, Allison Park and Ambride Aug. 5. For more information, visit thepeachtruck.com.
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