Everything's peachy in Marshall County

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

By Poppy Hall

Special to the Tribune

How do you like to eat your peaches? Ripe and juicy, and smelling like a peach, of course. Unlike other counties, Marshall County has its very own peach orchards, so for a brief time every summer finding some great peaches is just a matter of a short drive down the road.

Bill and Vicki Forgie moved here from Michigan in 1989. They had all kinds of animals, and a garden, until someone suggested a peach orchard. In 1994, they planted about 350 peach trees, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A peach tree ready to plant is just a stick with a root ball. Four years later you can see the beginnings of a peach orchard. With the help of Marshal County's UT Agricultural Extension office the Forgies' orchard has gradually been expanding and now they are up to 1,500 trees of seven different varieties. This year the Forgies planted another 80 trees, which Bill says will be where they stop before they have more than they can handle.

We don't think about peaches much except for the few weeks we all flock to the orchard to pick or to buy already-picked peaches. But for the Forgies it's a year-round commitment. They hire a pruner to trim the trees. He starts in November and it takes him three months to prune them all. In the spring, when the peaches are green, 80 percent of them are knocked off the tree so the remainder will grow bigger and to reduce the chance of the branches snapping off under the weight of the fruit.

Last week Pamela Bartholomew, Agritourism Marketing Specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, visited the Forgies for a Media Day. The Department of Agriculture has been working on a program called "Pick Tennessee" which helps to promote farmers, farmers markets, and their produce across the state. You can check out their website at www.picktnproducts.org or download their app if you have a smart phone.

With farmland covering about 44 percent of the state, and agriculture employing more than 10 percent of the workforce, agriculture is very important for the state economically. Bartholomew works to connect farmers with consumers. People across the nation are becoming more conscientious about where their food comes from and there is a new movement "farm to table" which seeks to grow and provide local produce.

Not only are Marshall County residents lucky to have such a peach orchard. We are also lucky to be in Tennessee where a warm climate and abundant rain are generally something we can count on. A late frost is a small foe to contend with compared to the western states like California which is currently going through its worst drought since records have been kept. California's loss of produce is going to drive the prices up in supermarkets across the nation. The higher cost of fuel makes moving produce across the country less viable and buying locally grown produce more sensible.

As most of you know, the Forgies also put in 500 sweet cherry trees, making them the largest cherry orchard in Tennessee. Sadly the frost did get the cherries this year (it's only the third time they lost an entire crop since they started). While the Forgies have stopped adding trees, they are adding more garden. Corn, squash, okra, melons, potatoes and much more can be bought as well as peaches.

You might as well make Forgies your lunch time destination since they added a kitchen with a menu that will please everybody. Of course they have peach cobbler (chef's secret recipe so don't ask, just enjoy) with ice cream. This year the Forgies will try their green thumbs with a pumpkin patch.

If you want peaches or produce, the Forgies urge you to call ahead to (931) 359-0153 to check availability and opening hours. You can also pre-order cheesecake or cobbler.

Forgies is just south of Lewisburg. Another peach orchard south of Cornersville opened this year, at Pete Matheson's farm. Look for the sign where Highway 129 turns off 31A.

If you have a smart phone or a computer be sure to download the Pick Tennessee app to see what is ripening on the trees, where it is happening, and much much more. The app is full of helpful advice. If you do not have a smart phone or computer, grab a friend that does and go forth to pick your way through Tennessee.Everything's peachy in Marshall County

By Poppy Hall

Special to the Tribune

How do you like to eat your peaches? Ripe and juicy, and smelling like a peach, of course. Unlike other counties, Marshall County has its very own peach orchards, so for a brief time every summer finding some great peaches is just a matter of a short drive down the road.

Bill and Vicki Forgie moved here from Michigan in 1989. They had all kinds of animals, and a garden, until someone suggested a peach orchard. In 1994, they planted about 350 peach trees, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A peach tree ready to plant is just a stick with a root ball. Four years later you can see the beginnings of a peach orchard. With the help of Marshal County's UT Agricultural Extension office the Forgies' orchard has gradually been expanding and now they are up to 1,500 trees of seven different varieties. This year the Forgies planted another 80 trees, which Bill says will be where they stop before they have more than they can handle.

We don't think about peaches much except for the few weeks we all flock to the orchard to pick or to buy already-picked peaches. But for the Forgies it's a year-round commitment. They hire a pruner to trim the trees. He starts in November and it takes him three months to prune them all. In the spring, when the peaches are green, 80 percent of them are knocked off the tree so the remainder will grow bigger and to reduce the chance of the branches snapping off under the weight of the fruit.

Last week Pamela Bartholomew, Agritourism Marketing Specialist with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, visited the Forgies for a Media Day. The Department of Agriculture has been working on a program called "Pick Tennessee" which helps to promote farmers, farmers markets, and their produce across the state. You can check out their website at www.picktnproducts.org or download their app if you have a smart phone.

With farmland covering about 44 percent of the state, and agriculture employing more than 10 percent of the workforce, agriculture is very important for the state economically. Bartholomew works to connect farmers with consumers. People across the nation are becoming more conscientious about where their food comes from and there is a new movement "farm to table" which seeks to grow and provide local produce.

Not only are Marshall County residents lucky to have such a peach orchard. We are also lucky to be in Tennessee where a warm climate and abundant rain are generally something we can count on. A late frost is a small foe to contend with compared to the western states like California which is currently going through its worst drought since records have been kept. California's loss of produce is going to drive the prices up in supermarkets across the nation. The higher cost of fuel makes moving produce across the country less viable and buying locally grown produce more sensible.

As most of you know, the Forgies also put in 500 sweet cherry trees, making them the largest cherry orchard in Tennessee. Sadly the frost did get the cherries this year (it's only the third time they lost an entire crop since they started). While the Forgies have stopped adding trees, they are adding more garden. Corn, squash, okra, melons, potatoes and much more can be bought as well as peaches.

You might as well make Forgies your lunch time destination since they added a kitchen with a menu that will please everybody. Of course they have peach cobbler (chef's secret recipe so don't ask, just enjoy) with ice cream. This year the Forgies will try their green thumbs with a pumpkin patch.

If you want peaches or produce, the Forgies urge you to call ahead to (931) 359-0153 to check availability and opening hours. You can also pre-order cheesecake or cobbler.

Forgies is just south of Lewisburg. Another peach orchard south of Cornersville opened this year, at Pete Matheson's farm. Look for the sign where Highway 129 turns off 31A.

If you have a smart phone or a computer be sure to download the Pick Tennessee app to see what is ripening on the trees, where it is happening, and much much more. The app is full of helpful advice. If you do not have a smart phone or computer, grab a friend that does and go forth to pick your way through Tennessee.