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- Travel Tuesday: Black's Produce & Plants of Denver, NC
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
An American Tradition of Feeding Your Family
Out on Old/Business 16, only spitting distance from the big stores like Harris Teeter and Walmart, sits a rare and reassuring place called Black's Produce & Plants, where family, tradition, and good quality trumps everything else. And their tradition includes feeding your family the "best produce and plants that we can find at any given time." They stock the wooden shelves, crates, and baskets with locally made jams, jellies, pickles, candies, cheeses, eggs, and even an amazing brew straight out of Raleigh. They have potatoes, onions, rhubarb, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, bananas, tomatoes, garlic, carrots, cabbage, limes, lemons, and anything else you can think of. "We even found some local asparagus today! Every time I've entered this nostalgic market, I'm overcome with a sense of this is where I belong, and I always find something new," Stacey Gretka of TNT shares her love of fresh food with her family, "and we just can't stop smiling when we stop in." Reid Black, of Black's Produce, says that "in the beginning of the season, much of the produce comes out of Florida, but as the season continues it moves right on up the coast." He told us that right now the tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, and candy corn (a type of corn that grows sweeter than white corn, but less sugar than yellow corn) are the best they've had. Nearly everything they offer comes from the U.S.
This time of year almost everything comes from local farms... within an hour of Denver, NC.
The tomatoes are amazing. Vine-ripened, colorful, hierloom tomatoes nearly bursting (with flavor).
Black's offers their own sauces, and other local favorites... like the coffee.
You can see the pickles, honey, and jam jars lining the walls. Not sure how something tastes? Honesty is their only policy.
And their roots are just as beautiful as their fruits...
Back in 1987, the family built their now booming roadside "stand," which is more like a log home, but before that they sold their 30 acres of tomatoes, cantaloupe, and watermelon "from an old covered wagon parked under the big pecan tree... on the honor system," Reid reccounts. "We were, and still are, just a little family on the side of the road, just trying to do things right."
Tomatoes for days!
If that doesn't warm your heart, their selection of local hierloom tomatoes might. Or maybe the vast array of flowers, herbs, and other plants you can find on their patios will brighten your day. Reid says, "we get all of our flowers from smaller growers who do things the old fashioned way, instead of with chemicals." They open shop on April 1st every year and stay open all the way until Christmas Eve each year. A little sign outside their door says they're open from 9-6 Monday through Friday, and as the sign says, "Sometimes Sunday." Reid laughs about the sign, "We live here, so we're probably here." He's proud to share that come Autumn, they have a beautiful pumpkin patch that takes over the entire front yard of the Black family house in a sea of orange, their fall flowers are show stoppers, they bring in candy from Indian River, and the apples. Oh, the apples. Winter goodies aren't to be forgotten either, trees that range in height from 3 to 12 feet, homemade wreaths, and beautiful pointsettias are only a small sampling of what they'll have in stock. You'll just have to come visit them.
Winter brings new choices, and amazing prices! Photo: Black's Produce & Plants, Facebook
So what motivates them to keep going in a world where fast-paced, convenience foods rule the roost? "It's just what we've always done. We've farmed for the the last thirty years. We love it - it's not like work."
Handwoven produce baskets can be found in every corner of the store, make great shopping baskets, and beautiful home decor!
I asked Reid what he hopes for the future of Black's Produce and was touched by the genuine smile, the kind that reaches all the way into the eyes, as he stated simply, "We hope it continues to grow. And yet we hope to keep things like they are." Fresh, family-run, simply wholesome food. That's what you can find on Old 16, in Denver, NC.
Photo: Black's Produce & Plants, Facebook