WAKE FOREST — Just ahead of the holiday weekend, John Davis will put a sign out at the end of his driveway advertising the fruits of his labor: Peaches.
Following his retirement in 1997 after a 35-year career as the executive director of the Franklin County Farm Service Agency, Davis moved to Wake Forest in 2002 from Echo Ridge Farm in Louisburg in 2002 with his wife, Barbara.
Married for 61 years, the couple has three sons and 11 grandchildren.
Located at 2617 Wait Ave, their six-acre hobby farm has grown considerably over the years. Soon after their arrival, Davis planted 10 peach trees. And after planting the last of them three years ago, that number has grown to 60, along with four nectarine trees and a bunch of blueberry bushes.
Of the 70 varieties of peaches, Davis grows 7-8 on his hobby farm, which also includes his horse, Fancy, and dog, Gypsy.
Unlike blueberry bushes, which take some seven years to produce fruit, peach trees only take three years.
“They’ve done well this year because of the more moderate temperatures,” Davis said on a tour of the farm by golf cart in mid-June. One tree will produce 40-50 pounds of peaches per season.
“It keeps us busy and I look forward to this time every year,” he said. “I’m a farm boy and learned a lot of things from my parents.
Davis, who turns 86 in August, grew up on a tobacco farm in Vass and said he always wanted to be a cowboy.
And while he took a different path, Davis seems to have made the best possible use of his degree in agriculture from NC State.
Although he receives some help from his family, friends and neighbors, Davis said he does all the peach picking himself.
“You’ve got to know when they’re ripe and pick early in the morning,” he said.
Following the holiday weekend, when they made a few sales on the Fourth, the couple will only sell on Fridays and Saturdays. Together with nectarines and occassional garden vegetables, the peaches are expected to last until mid-August.