JONESVILLE — One man is continuing a long-standing family tradition, which means access to an abundance of homegrown produce for customers in Union County.
Jonesville resident Mike Robison’s grandfather, Toy Robison, started growing peaches in 1939.
“My Paw Paw was a self-sufficient farmer,” Mike said, explaining that his grandfather grew and canned vegetables; kept hogs, cows and chickens; had milk, butter and eggs; grew cotton; and grew corn for his cattle and to sell.
“Today’s farmers are more specific. Very few grow a large variety.”
The family’s main crop was peaches, and Mike’s father, Jimmy Robison, took up growing peaches in 1967. The Robison men grew peaches together in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in Reidville. Mike took over the peach-growing operation in 1987, and the family grew so many peaches that they sold to the Gerber baby food company in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Mike moved to Union County in the mid-1990s, and he worked construction for 18 years. However, he missed doing what he loves.
“I had to go back to growing peaches,” Mike said.
In 2012, Mike went back to farming, and his 15-acre Tall Pine Farm (located at 792 Bobby Faucette Road in Jonesville) is producing plenty of fruits and vegetables including watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes, two types of sweet corn, okra, pink banana squash, and of course, his main crop — peaches.
Mike rode through his peach orchard on a golf cart, pointing out each of the five varieties of peaches he grows — Red Havens, Intrepids, Contenders, Jeffersons, and Parades. He said the varieties differ in times of ripening as well as a few other subtle characteristics.
Mike held a tree branch full of his favorite variety of peaches.
“These are Red Havens,” he said. “They just have a tremendous flavor.”
He drove the cart a little further and pointed out another variety.
“These next ones are Intrepids,” he said. “See those starting to swell? We’ll have a four-to-five-day difference in the varieties so they will overlap.”
This year, Robison has about 500 peach trees that are bearing fruit, and he has more that are being trained.
“It takes a lot of care and time,” he said. “It takes about three years before they start to bear fruit. The trees start out at 18-24 inches tall, and you have to train the trees by pruning them. See those Red Havens? They will be ready next year.”
This is the first year Mike’s trees have bore fruit, and on Friday, he said he had been picking fruit for just over a week.
Mike sells his produce seven days a week at a stand located on the roadside in front of his farm at 792 Bobby Faucette Road, Jonesville. The stand is open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1 p.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. He also sells produce at the Union Farmers Market.
Mike had one piece of advice for anyone who enjoys fresh fruits and vegetables: “Support your local farmers!”