Sneak Peek

Season 2, Episode 07

Just Peachy

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Just Peachy: Georgia Legend Lane Southern Orchards Comes To National TV

The Taste of Summer is Just Off I-75

FT. VALLEY, GA When you think of Georgia, the first thing you think of is peaches. And when you think of Georgia peaches, the first thing you think of is Lane Southern Orchards, the lush groves and tourist attraction that have beckoned travelers on I-75 for decades. The orchards were established in 1908, long-before the nearby interstate was ever even dreamed about.

A quick turn off Exit 42 leads down a long straight road seemingly to nowhere. After you’ve gone far enough to wonder if you actually got off at the right spot, the endless acres of Lane peach and pecan trees come into view.

While Georgia – and Lane – are first known for peaches, believe it or not, Georgia actually produces even more pecans. That crop is more important economically than the state symbol. Georgia typically leads the nation in pecan production, while California and South Carolina lap The Peach State in production of that fruit.

But the peach will forever be connected with Georgia – it’s even the state symbol on license plates. Nothing better conjures thoughts of a slow, sweet summer than biting into a juicy Georgia peach.

What’s surprising is how comfortably peach and pecan trees live together. Almost all of Lane’s 11,000 acres of groves are planted in both, with short, squat peach trees nestled happily between towering pecans. It’s a perfect combination: Peach harvest starts in April and often runs through September, while pecans are harvested from November on.

The fruit and nuts are fantastic of course – but it’s the café and gift shop that made Lane Southern Orchards famous.

While workers bustle in the groves, harvesting peaches by the truckload, visitors patrol the gift shop, looking for fresh peaches, jams, jellies, candies, roasted pecans and other treats, trinkets and gourmet treasures you’ll only find here. Much of what’s for sale is made onsite, or prepared to Lane’s specifications by other Georgia artisan producers. But breads are the signature item… well, that and a world-famous peach cobbler.

But it’s the breads that smack you in the face as you walk through the door, the aromas wafting from a very busy bakery that pumps out hundreds of loaves a week of fanciful creations like peach bread and a simply sinful cinnamon-pecan loaf that might be bread, might be dessert.

The Peachtree Café also calls hungry travelers, with everything from sandwiches, salads and wraps to southern specialties like fried pork chops, meat loaf and pecan-crusted catfish, served with an array of fresh veggies. Yummy homemade ice cream and a variety of cakes are part of the dessert lineup. But why would you go for anything other than a slice of Lane’s own pecan pie or a bowlful of that world famous peach cobbler? (Bonus: You can actually get Lane’s Peach Cobbler recipe right here!)

“Agritourism is a big thing these days, but I honestly think the Lanes might have invented it over 100 years ago,” says Lane CEO Mark Sanchez. Today, more than 350,000 travelers and locals visit the Orchards every year. (You can also shop for Lane products online – just look ‘em up.)

All of that started quite simply. In the early days of the orchards, travelers started stopping by to pick up peaches to take home. Since the Lanes were pretty much in the middle of nowhere, a lot of those people were also looking for something else to eat.

“They’d come out here to get peaches, but then of course they wanted a meal, too, and there was simply nothing around,” Sanchez explains. “Great Grandma Lane was famous around here for her chicken salad. So she started making sandwiches to sell to hungry travelers.”

Before long, that turned into a café. And then a gift shop. And then a bakery. Eventually, today’s tourist mecca arose, with activities for kids, farm tours in season, and plenty of Georgia-Grown goodness to take home.

But it’s still all about the peaches (and pecans).

“I’ve been stopping at Lane’s since I was a kid heading to Florida on vacation,” says WTFCF producer and host Chip Carter, himself a Georgian who hales from Conyers. “We travel the country making this show, but we film a lot of episodes in The Peach State. I knew when we were ready to tell the story of Georgia’s signature crop, there was no better place to tell it.”




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