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Mt. Juliet woman offers farm-fresh for 60-plus years

By Kimberly Jordan kjordan@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Jul 2, 2014 at 10:39 PM

A local resident has been offering fresh produce to area residents for the past 20 to 25 years at her farm on Benders Ferry Road in Mt. Juliet.

Marie Parrish, who moved to her farm with her husband in 1951, said she and her husband started the produce stand with “a little round table” by the roadside, offering tomatoes and other vegetables grown on the farm.

Parrish, who turns 90 on July 15, said that in all the years she has had the stand, it has operated on the honor system.

“If they want whatever, they can get them,” she said. “They can pick it out and weigh it, I’ve got a little money box down there [for them to pay].”

Each of the vegetables has a price per pound listed on its container, and there is a scale hanging on the side of the counter for customers to use to determine the price of their finds.

“When I first started, I had a little round table down there. And my brother and his wife live over on the other side. They have a garden, so she would bring stuff over and we would put it down there on the table, and then if anybody stopped we’d go down there and wait on them,” Parrish said.

Her husband passed away in 1998, but Parrish has kept the stand going.

“Later on, I don’t know how long, I asked this guy if he would build me a little stand down by the road,” she said.

He obliged and built a small stand that was a little more visible to people driving by. Then, a little while later, Parrish called the man a second time and said, “I need you back down here, I need a back to my stand.”

She asked for the addition due to the evening sun shining onto the stand. The man built a back for the building that included shelves for extra vegetables, said Parrish.

“It’s a whole lot better,” she added.

The little roadside stand attracts several customers, according to Parrish, many of them regulars.

“[Monday and Tuesday] I had more than usual,” she said. “I guess they’re trying to get ready for the holiday. I have a lot of regulars.

“This guy was here the other day and he said ‘Oh, I see you’ve got tomatoes, and I’m so glad. I don’t eat nobody’s tomatoes but yours, and I’ve been waiting.’”

The man lives in Hendersonville, and he is not the only visitor she gets from out of town. She said she has customers from “all around.”

“I’ve met so many nice people,” Parrish noted. “If they see me out in the yard, a lot of times they do come up and start talking and have a little chat.”

She credits a neighbor as her “right-hand man” in helping keep the little stand stocked with produce.

“Homer Dudley, he’s got a garden too, and I get stuff from him, too. It takes a whole lot of work to put that much stuff. The 15th of this month, I’ll be 90 years old, so I can’t do as much as I used to do. So he raises a lot of this stuff and drops it off here.”

Her current offerings include tomatoes, beans, squash, cucumbers, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant and potatoes.

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