Produce stand opens for new season

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Philip Ulmer looks at a zucchini Thursday while shopping at Farmer's Produce on Sutters Creek Boulevard.


Staff Writer

Friday, April 21, 2017

Despite having to move around in a wheelchair and having a few health problems, 80-year-old Elmer Farmer still loves operating his longtime seasonal business in Rocky Mount.

The affable owner of Farmer’s Produce opened the fruit and vegetable stand to the public for the 22nd year on Thursday. The business again operates in the parking lot of the former Kmart on Sutters Creek Boulevard. 

The array of produce selections included bananas, strawberries, watermelons, honey dew melons, red grapes, mangos, pineapples, cantaloupes, okra, red peppers, red potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, corn, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, kale and mustard greens.

“I always appeciate people coming here and shopping because if it weren’t for the people, it’s no way I could’ve been around here so long,” Farmer said. “I love talking to people, and it’s alway great to see people walk out of this tent getting what they were looking for.”

Farmer said he has 28 local farmers he receives fresh produce from every day. With tomatoes being the biggest seller, Farmer’s Produce sells an average of about 2,000 pounds of fresh tomatoes a week, he added. Farmer even gives away a free tomato to customers for their appreciation of shopping at Farmer’s Produce and people who he finds out are first-time customers.

Farmer’s Produce has traditionally drawn customers from beyond Rocky Mount, Farmer said. Philip Ulmer, who lives in Castalia, came down for the opener to purchase a bag full of zucchini, squash, strawberries and tomatoes.

“They sell the best tomatoes, which is the main reason I come here because I love making a good tomato sandwich,” Ulmer said. “It’s also convenient because my wife likes coming and shopping nearby.”

Richard Glasgow, another regular customer, drove from Wilson to buy some cucumbers, squash and onions.

“It’s fresh produce and it’s from local farmers,” Glasgow said. “It makes a big difference instead of buying from a chain store, where produce isn’t always the freshest.”

In the near future, Farmer said Farmer’s Produce plans to bring more choices for customers such as homemade ice cream, boiled peanuts, snap beans and more fruits such as oranges and apples.

Farmer’s Produce is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.