Every summer my family takes a day trip to Fort Valley, Georgia, to buy peaches fresh off the trees at Lane Southern Orchards. The peaches are wonderful, just the kind I love — the flesh snaps right off the pit (also called the “stone,” so these peaches are “freestone”; the ones that have the flesh cling is “clingstone”).
Although you do not pick them off the tree yourself, you can buy the peaches in small or large quantities. Several varieties are offered at different times, so call ahead to see if your favorite kind is in season.
I love looking around the store at all the novelty items — the store and the selection of novelties are quite large. Lane generously offers a sampling station of almost every food they sell, and I have to admit everything I have tried is delicious! My kids sneak back and back to the station to try all jams, jellies and salsas offered for sampling. Other fresh foods available for sale include peas, lima beans, tomatoes, Vidalia onions and homemade peach bread, in addition to ciders and wines in a variety of peach and other fruit flavors.
Peachtree Café and Bakery is located inside the store, with booths to sit and rest your feet. Although we have not tried the meals yet, we always order the homemade peach ice cream and peach cobbler, which is my personal favorite.
Inspired by this café, my Mother-in-law makes homemade peach ice cream at home using the peaches she buys at Lane, and it is heaven on a spoon! She also cans “vanilla” peaches using the fresh Lane peaches, and the recipe she uses and highly recommends is “Peaches in Vanilla Syrup” (p. 108) from the book, Canning for a New Generation: Bold, Fresh Flavors for the Modern Pantry, by Liana Krissoff, a Georgia resident.
My children’s favorite part of visiting Lanes is watching the peach-packing process via a free self-touring catwalk above the adjoining factory. We can peek at workers inspecting thousands of peaches fresh off the trees and can follow the peaches traveling the rollers from inspection to packing. The process is mesmerizing, and many of the employees will look up and give a smile and a wave to onlookers!
When they were younger, my children also enjoyed playing on the cute playground outside, and we took some great pictures of them on the display tractors there (yes, they are allowed to play on the display!). Overall, a nice day trip for the family, but the best part is the main attraction for us: fresh, delicious Georgia peaches!
Follow them on Facebook for the latest Peach news and visit them at 50 Lane Road, Fort Valley, GA. It is about a 2 hour drive south of the city, but worth the drive!
Connie Briggs is a contributing writer to Scoop OTP. Originally from Florida, she grew up in Cherokee Country and has lived for 9 years in Canton with her husband and three children. Currently, she is a Graduate Teaching Asst. at KSU while pursuing a Master’s of Professional Writing Degree.
Original article written in 2014.