Chappell's Farm Offers Peaches Juicy and Sweet
By Anita B. Stone
Special to The Pilot
The town of Candor is reportedly the peach capital of North Carolina.
Historically the small town was a booming place for travelers on their way to Myrtle Beach, S.C. But the town's vitality diminished and residents began to travel to nearby towns to purchase healthy food.
The N.C. Farm Fresh farming community has become top-notch in Candor, offering delicious fresh and juicy produce.
Just ask Ken Chappell, a fourth-generation farmer who is noted for growing some of the best peaches and apples in the county. Chappell is an N.C. State University agricultural graduate, who grows 30 acres of peaches on the 50-acre farm.
"I wait every winter," says Chappell. "It's a challenge, but I did what I was destined to do - grow peaches."
Chappell works hard to produce safe fruits for consumers.
"I recommend a firm, ripe peach when selecting the fruits," he says. "Try to pick the peaches with the most red or yellow colors. And do not pick any peaches that are soft."
Chappell's peaches grow well in zones 5 through 8, and the Sandhills is perfect for the popular fruit, including Georgia Belles, which are wonderful peaches, although they bruise easily.
"They smell sweet, are juicy and hardy and disease-resistant," he says.
From June through September, peaches include the juicy and sweet Clingstone and Elbertas. Varieties at Chappell orchards include Windblow, Fireprince, Contender, Cresthaven and China Pearl, to name a few.
"We're always reminded that in the 1800s, tobacco was the crop everyone grew, but as time passed we saw the changes coming," Chappell says. "After World War II, people grew peaches. The sandy soil was good to grow that type of fruit. There was a peach boom in the 1920s and 1930s. Northern people were in Georgia looking for sandy land that we have here. So they came here and taught the locals how to grow peaches."
During the 1940s and 1950s, at least 50 growers were in this area.
"Then in the early 1980s, those who grew peaches had a difficult time because two or three freezes wiped them out," Chappell says. "The remaining average grower has about 30 to 50 acres these days. I used to spend time packing and selling bushels of peaches to families when people took them home and did a lot of canning and freezing, but today many families have cut down. So I don't have that opportunity anymore. The demand has changed."
Chappell's business is about 80 percent wholesale.
"But we go to the Raleigh Farmers Market and sell our produce to the people directly," he says. "And we have the roadside stand, which offers our crops to everyone who comes by."
Chappell's wife, Rhonda, oversees the roadside stand at the farm in Eagle Springs.
"She takes good care of the stand," says Chappell. "People come by and like to see our peaches and what we have to offer. We always have fresh peaches available every day during the season. The juiciest peaches are the late ones."
Chappell is please to say that this year's crop is a good one. They now offer a "u-pick" orchard, which runs until mid-August.
"Everyone can select the juiciest peaches on their own, or we will pick for them," he says.
Chappell sells apples as well. The apple varieties begin in mid-July and extend until October.
"The best apples for this location are Ozark Gold, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Delicious (both Golden and Red), Goldrush and Pink Lady," he says. "We invite everyone to taste our fruit."
Chappell Orchards are located along N.C. 211 between Eagle Springs and Candor. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (910) 673-3375.
Contact freelance writer Anita Stone at email@example.com.
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