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Carthage roadside stand sells and donates produce

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CARTHAGE — Kevin H. and Sandra L. Hadley cannot wait to retire — so they can work full-time in the name of passion for produce.

Both have full-time jobs; Mr. Hadley at Fuccillo Ford, Adams, and Mrs. Hadley at a local post office. Their days begin before the sun rises and end after the sun sets, when they harvest crops and replenish their roadside stand, 32984 County Route 143.

“I’ll never quit working,” Mr. Hadley said. “As a kid, I grew sweet corn. We’ve got the land and machinery to do so now.”

What started out about seven years ago with a half-acre garden of vegetables for Mr. Hadley’s homemade salsa has expanded to 17.5 acres. The Hadleys grow vegetables for personal use and to sell to businesses and community members at their White Creek Gardens roadside stand.

They also donate tons — literally — of produce to nonprofit agencies, particularly local food pantries that may have difficulties finding fresh produce for clients.

“It’s very affordable, and that’s one of the praises we get from customers,” Mrs. Hadley said. “We don’t charge triple like they do in the stores.”

While in some local grocery stores, squash varieties can cost as much as $1.69 per pound, one of the Hadleys’ large spaghetti squashes is just $2. A dozen ears of corn is only $2. A large onion is 50 cents, large eggplants are $1 each and apples are about 25 cents each. More produce, including sweet and hot peppers, potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, cabbages and tomatoes, as well as other vegetables and fruit, are available.

In the middle of the approximately 10-foot-by-6-foot stand is an honor box for people to put their money in.

Mr. Hadley said what fruit the stand does carry is provided by other area growers. All vegetables come from the Hadleys’ garden.

He said the family side business is truly a labor of love, as everything is planted and picked by hand. Seeds from some produce are saved for planting for the next growing season, but many certified seeds are ordered in bulk.

Daughter Jill M. Fraser, who manages the stand, said people will stop by anytime from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. If restaurants or businesses want to offer vegetable-related specials, Mr. Hadley said, they just need to call ahead and Mrs. Fraser will pick the quantity they desire.

Mrs. Fraser and her 2-year-old son, Henry, along with her sister-in-law, Janiffer, and Janiffer’s 3-year-old daughter, Kate, all help harvest the crops. Family member Kameron Spencer also helps. Mr. Hadley said more volunteers will be needed next year, since the family hopes to be able to grow more and therefore donate more to local pantries.

Although his “second job” doesn’t come easy, Mr. Hadley said, he cannot see giving up that passion for produce anytime soon.

People or businesses that would like to order in bulk may call Mrs. Fraser at 286-3692, or Mr. Hadley at 777-5394.

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