Countryside Produce Market
By Norwood Walker
Have you ever had a “Dorothy moment”? You know one of those times like in the iconic Wizard of Oz when Dorothy turns to Auntie Em and Uncle Henry and tells them that if she ever goes looking for her heart’s desire again, she won’t look any further than her own backyard? Well, it wasn’t exactly my heart’s desire I was looking for recently, and it wasn’t exactly in my own backyard. But what I did find was just as good and just as close. I found a great place to get huge fried pies, apple butter with cinnamon and pecans, Ashe County cheese, mountain apples and just about anything else you might make a trip to the mountains to buy. It was also a great place to take a family picture of grandparents and kids with two grandkids perched on a big red tractor, and it was only three miles from my driveway.
Mike and Susie Wright are the owners and operators of Countryside Produce Market at 6101 Burlington Road, 49 South in Roxboro. They have been in the wholesale side of the business since 2004 and opened the retail side three years ago. Previously, Mike built houses, and Susie worked at Sports Endeavors in Hillsborough. The retail part of their operation began with selling from their front yard and later a building was erected right along the highway. I can guess who did the construction on the building. Now they are a welcome oasis in the desert of big box stores in our area.
Susie said, “We are unique. We are not a big box store but family owned, operated, and oriented.” They have two employees, Faye Glenn and Jennifer Walker, who are a big help. Their customers are special and they feel blessed to have become a gathering place for repeat customers. According to Susie, “customers become part of the family.” On one of my recent visits I met two guys from Durham and Chapel Hill. One is building at Hyco Lake and the other is a professional photographer chronicling the building process in pictures. I could tell they were regular customers and they included me in their friendly conversation. One had a copy of Hyco Lake Magazine in his hand and was delighted to know this was a place he could pick up his copies.
Many weekenders to Hyco, Mayo, and Clarksville lakes make stops going to their destinations on Friday to pick up fresh seasonal vegetables, jams, jellies, fried pies, or homemade bread and many other items available for weekend treats. They stop again on Sunday afternoons or Monday mornings for things to take back home to last until the next trip. Many local residents have also discovered that this is the place to get the first peaches, cantaloupes, and watermelons of the season. The upcoming season will find bags of old-fashioned candies, made to order fresh fruit baskets, fresh hams, and many more items to make holidays even more special. If you are interested in a fruit basket, best order early. They will also have some fruit baskets available for walk-in customers.
Hopefully the big red tractor (a 1951 MD International which starts on gas and switches to diesel and owned by Doug Clayton) will still be there in the yard with maybe a wreath or two hanging on it. I have a fall family picture, but I want a winter family picture with the whole family this time. By the way, Mike is a great photographer and is glad to snap the picture so you can be in it too.
It is not over the rainbow, and there is no yellow brick road leading to it, but there is an Oz-like quality of not being in Kansas anymore. Special treats, smiling faces and warm hearts make you feel welcomed and appreciated from the time you get out of the car until you drive off munching on maple and bacon flavored sesame sticks. Oh yes, I almost forgot Santa will be stopping by on Dec. 19, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Norwood Walker has spent many years in a classroom on one side of the desk or the other. He loved to write poetry and stories in high school and his English teacher of three years once told him he might become a writer if he overcame his radical period. She is still waiting. He can be reached at [email protected] or Rainbow’s End on Facebook.