By Zachary Morton
MONROE — With strawberries in full bloom, many people are heading out to local farms to pick and buy their own berries. And for many people in and around Union County, two words come to mind: Piedmont Produce.
“The friendliness and family atmosphere. I like it. And it’s good. I mean look at the pretty berries,” said customer Karen Greene.
Located just outside of Monroe, Piedmont Produce has been growing and letting customers pick strawberries since 1995. Many, like Greene, enjoy the feeling of picking their own food.
“I’ve been coming here since they opened. I like being able to get fresh produce like this. And I like picking, because it is something for us to do together as a family, and I know that I’m getting ripe ones when I am picking them.”
Family and strawberries were very important for Greene on the day we spoke.
“I am picking for my son’s wedding. We are going to have a strawberry and chocolate fountain.”
With the success of their strawberry farm, Piedmont began growing more crops for customers to choose from. In 2001, they opened their General Store to help sell their products.
“We grow strawberries, onions, tomatoes, sweet corn, okra, peppers, squash, and some zucchini. Strawberries and corn are the biggest sellers,” said owner Marie Baucom.
“We are very busy during the summer, from the end of March to August, but we are open year round. We get a lot of beach traffic that stops by. We also have people from Charlotte, Mint Hill, Wadesboro, Albemarle and Stanly County who come by as well.”
Store Manager Willie Thompson estimates around 25,000 customers stop by the store during the summer. “People say they love us.”
Aside from their own produce, the General Store also sells various garden flowers and ferns, local made honey, hot sauces, ciders, butters and preserves.
“We always have good stuff for them. If we don’t have it, then we will try to get it if its something we don’t grow,” said Thompson.
Even though Piedmont now offers a wider selection of food and products to choose from, strawberries are still king. And they are still bringing in new people.
“Actually, we were driving through Monroe, and there was a sign where Morgan Mill Road starts, and we were like, ‘Hey, let’s go pick strawberries,’ ” said Susan Nichol of Waxhaw. Nichol, along with her friend Kasey Wilson, liked what they saw.
“There are plenty of very good-looking berries. Prices are pretty fair for picking your own strawberries. We have a strawberry farm close to where we live. They used to let you pick your own strawberries, but they don’t anymore. And they charge you for a bucket that is smaller than this.”
“It was kind of a spur of the moment thing for us to come out here,” said Wilson.
More information and directions to Piedmont Produce can be found at their website, http://www.piedmontproduce.com/index.htm, or by phone at (704) 753-2300.