If you’ve ever driven north on GA 365 toward Cornelia, undoubtedly you’ve passed by Jaemor Farm Market in Alto.
Situated on top of a hill overlooking the highway, the market has been a boon for generations of North Georgians to purchase fresh produce and baked goods. Now celebrating its 40th year of business, the family-owned market has grown from a small building that only sold peaches to its current structure that offers shoppers a dozen different types of produce throughout the year.
But there’s more to Jaemor Farm Market offers more than fresh produce. At one of the building is a bakery, where fruits from the farm are mixed into delicious treats such a fried apple pies and peach ice cream. Many of the fruits and vegetables are also turned into jams, jellies and even salad dressing.
The market’s success is the result of the hard work and grit of the Echols family, which has owned the market since it opened its doors in 1981. Ownership of the market and farmland is now split between brothers Jarl and Judah Echols, as well as the former’s son Drew.
Older brother Jarl said that his primary role is oversight of the farm portion of the business. He said that the farm has come a long way from when his father Jimmy Allen Echols first came up with the idea to open a market in the late 1970s. Echols’s father combined the first three initials of his name and the first three initials of his late wife’s maiden name, Morrison, to create the name JAEMOR.
In anticipation of what the market could become, the elder Echols planted 6,300 peach trees two years before the market opened. His foresight proved to be beneficial as the trees yielded enough crop to sustain the market for years into the future and forced the Echols to expand their operation.
“That’s when we started building onto [the market]- it started out this original building was one hundred foot long…now it’s 254 feet long instead of a hundred,” said Echols. “The parking is probably about 30 times more than it used to be.”
Echols said that as there’s more of a demand for certain produce, that’s when the family will decide to add it to their crop.
“We’re trying to give people what they want and I think that’s been part of the success of this place,” said Echols. “People can come up at any time and get something that they are familiar with and enjoy eating.”
Echols’s brother Judah oversees the market itself in the role of Farm Market Manager. He said that the “busy season” at the market used to run from June to October, but once his nephew Drew added strawberries to the crop, it extended to include the spring, as well.
An increase in crops, and an increase in shoppers, has led the Echols to hire on more staff members outside of the three to four family members it used to take to run the market.
“It has been my joy over the last 40 years, and I have been here since the beginning, to see it grow to where now in the busy peak of the season it can take 30 to 40 people to run the market,” he said. JUDAH 7:27 “At the end of the day when we’ve had those huge crowds throughout the summer and fall, we may be ready to collapse, but it’s a really good feeling.”
Along with the day-to-day market and bakery, Jaemor Farm Market hosts several festivals and seasonal activities throughout the year. During the spring and summer, there are days for the public to pick strawberries, peaches and flowers. Then during the fall, the corn maze opens up and pumpkin patches appear.
But regardless of the season or time of year, Jaemor Farm Market offers a safe, family-friendly environment for all of its shoppers. It’s an atmosphere that results from generations of Echols understanding the difference that family can make.
“I’m not gonna do anything that would hurt my kids, if I take them out in the field and they eat a peach or strawberry or something like that, we’re not gonna use anything that’s dangerous because it’s my kids,” said Jarl Echols. “People come up here and they see that and they say, ‘they love their kids, they love their family, they work together and I believe it’s a safe place to buy stuff.’”
As part of expanding their business, the Echols now offer a market in Banks Crossing in addition to the one in Alto. Hours for both are available on the Jaemor Farms website.