Peach Truck gives boost to Middle Georgia’s growers
The Peach Truck is a national farm-to-table phenomena conceived, as great ideas often are, from a chat on a front porch.
Stephen Rose spent his childhood in Fort Valley and was close friends with the Pearson family that operates Pearson Farm. He grew up eating their big, juicy peaches in the summer but when he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 2010 he found peaches there disappointing.
In 2012 he was visiting the Pearsons and was sitting on a front porch talking to Will McGehee, who does marketing for the farm. McGehee mentioned he had long dreamed of a way to quickly get peaches from the farm directly to the consumer. Rose suddenly saw a good side hustle, but it turned into much more.
A few days after their chat, Pearson by coincidence had a truckload of peaches headed north through Nashville, and McGehee asked the driver to stop and off-load a few boxes to Rose.
With that, The Peach Truck was born. Rose started it as a sideline, buying the peaches from Pearson wholesale, then selling on the weekends out of a 1964 Jeep Gladiator. He said he sold 10 tons of peaches within five weeks and the business became so popular that he and his wife, Jessica, both left their 9-to-5s.
Now The Peach Truck is their full-time gig, and they travel around the country selling peaches in parking lots. Through social media, people follow where they will be and line up by the hundreds to get 25-pound boxes of peaches, currently for $42.
They have been featured in Southern Living, Epicurious, Yahoo Food and the Huffington Post.
Rose was in Houston, Texas, as he spoke to The Telegraph by phone last week. He said he now sells around two tractor trailer loads of peaches a day. All come from Middle Georgia growers.
Rose said the secret to their success is social media marketing and fresh peaches. The peaches they sell are picked on a different timetable just for them, and go from the orchard to the customer in two days or less.
“Once they taste what a peach should taste like, which is right off the tree and super fresh, they are not able to go back,” Rose said.
This week The Peach Truck is in Florida, and on Monday morning Pearson was packing a truck load of peaches for Rose that were picked that morning. The peaches, packed in boxes with The Peach Truck name on it, would be sold to customers in Florida by Tuesday.
“They are basically the vehicle that we are getting fresher peaches into people’s hands a lot faster than the traditional channel,” McGehee said.
Additionally on Monday, peaches were getting put into open crates that would then be repacked into boxes to be shipped by mail to The Peach Truck customers who order online.
McGehee said The Peach Truck sells so many peaches that Pearson can’t supply all they need while meeting the demands of other customers, so Lane Southern Orchards and Dickey Farms also provide peaches for Rose.
“He took it way past anything I ever dreamed of,” McGehee said. “They have been able to be successful in being able to create a community of people around a peach.”
If people are looking for a peach at its best, McGehee said now is the time. Growers are already looking at their best crop in years, but McGehee said a dry, hot May concentrated the flavor of the peaches, so they are especially good right now.
“When you get that hot in May it really sets it up for a sweet season,” he said.