Thursday June 8th, 2023 8:24AM

WORKING FOR A LIVING: The 'buzz' on peach fuzz

On this Labor Day weekend, AccessWDUN salutes the workers who faithfully take care of the jobs that most of us take for granted. While we know there are dozens of occupations that are deemed less-than-glamorous, we realize those who are employed in those fields are vital to keeping our communities running. We selected three such occupations to spotlight during the 2018 Labor Day weekend: a farm worker at Jaemor Farms, a project coordinator on a construction crew, and a sewer cleaning technician with the City of Gainesville. Hopefully, their stories will help you appreciate these folks who are in the trenches every day. Also, if you happen to be working in a job where you feel under-appreciated, we want you to know you have our gratitude! Enjoy your Labor Day weekend!


One of the rewards of summer is upon us.  The north Georgia peach crop has ripened and orchard branches are bowed low to the ground, laden with ripe delight. 

However, keep in mind as you sample that distinctive southern delicacy and wipe the juicy goodness from your chin, getting the pitted-fruit from the source to the store is not always “as easy as pie."

And one of the challenges peach farming creates, according to one local expert, might surprise you; more on that in a moment.

In case you didn’t know, peach trees were brought to the Americas in the 16th century by Spanish explorers.  Those early European agronomists had received the peach centuries earlier from eastern merchants traveling from China.

Whatever, however, whenever or whomever…we’re thankful that they did make the transplant because peaches and Georgia have gotten along very well…just look at what it says on your license plate.

AccessWDUN recently had the opportunity to visit one of the area’s better known peach producers, Jaemor Farms, and walk among the hundreds of Prunus Persica trees and watch as workers stretched, bent and contorted in all possible directions to harvest this year’s crop.

Drew Echols was our tour guide. The Echols family has been a pioneering influence in the evolution of ag-business for over a century. Their hilltop market along Georgia 365 near Alto draws tens-of-thousands of visitors each year.

Echols listed most of the expected difficulties involved in successfully growing peaches: rain, too little or too much; hot weather, not enough – peaches love hot days according to Echols; late spring frosts that can decimate an entire crop; disease and insect problems as Echols says he tries to grow his products as naturally as possible.

“They like hot, dry weather; you get your best flavor when it’s kinda dry and hot,” Echols said.

But then Echols named an unexpected challenge he and his two-dozen farm hands face during the harvest: peach fuzz!  Peach fuzz is a common metaphor for tender softness, yet Echols said he’s experienced the ugly side of peach fuzz.

Echols said when it rains during the harvest peach fuzz becomes a real irritant.  “What happens is that fuzz will wash down and it finds every crack and wrinkle in your body,” Echols explained.

“It accumulates in your elbows and around your wrists.  It’ll wash down and be under your arms and in different areas and it feels kinda like fiberglass,” Echols said with a noted grimace.  “If it’s wet, it’s kinda miserable.”

Fortunately, the day we visited the skies were blue and peach fuzz would have to wait for another opportunity to be a nuisance, but there were other challenges noted almost immediately upon our arrival in the orchard.

There was plenty of shin-high wet grass, mud, irregular terrain, stinging insects that devour the few pieces of fruit that had fallen to the ground, and the unmentioned, but quickly noted, threat of snakes lurking in the tall grass. 

Looking down seemed more important than looking up, but “up” was where the fruit awaited; getting it into a basket was another matter.

Being spry, agile and quick to heal are traits that serve peach pickers well.

Simply dodge the spear-like branch tips looking for a target, reach around and into the core of the tree, securely grasp and snap off a peach without bruising the tender flesh, and remove the fruit from a tangle of leaves – all while standing on tiptoes – and you’ll experience the joy of harvesting peaches.  Repeat a couple of thousand times and you’ll have a good idea of how tough it can be to bring the produce to the table.

If Echols says harvesting is the easy part of growing peaches (watch attached video) then I can’t imagine the challenge involved in all the other aspects of peach farming.

But in the end all the work and sweat and worry is worth it when you bite deeply into a ripe peach.

Georgia native sons Duane and Gregg Allman knew the joy of the fruit when they titled their 1972 album, “Eat A Peach”.  That’s good advice as well as legendary music…but be careful of the fuzz.

Check out some of the video footage we collected during our visit to Jaemor Farms (above and to the left) and let Drew Echols give you a little of the inside-scoop on peaches.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: Peaches, Farming, agriculture, Labor Day , Jaemor Farms, Working for a Living , Labor Day 2018, orchards
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