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The Charm of the Southern Peach

By: Dennis Chrisman | Vice President of Human Resources, Produce Director
On: July 12, 2016

When it comes to peaches, I love the smell, taste, and joy they bring to my summer. And for our annual Peach Party, it’s my quest to procure the most flavorful, plumpest fruit I can find. This took me to my favorite peach family this past May in Greenfield, South Carolina. Sonny Yonce and his family have been growing Big Smile Peaches for more than 80 years, spanning multiple generations.

Just seeing their beautiful orchards full of juicy, red peaches and a state-of-the-art grading system and packing facility reminds me of why I love the Big Smile Peach. The romance and history of this Southern fruit takes me and my brother Mike back to our youth, where summer days were sweetened with juice running down our chins from a plump peach, mom’s peach cobbler, and grandma’s peach pie.

At J.W. Yonce & Sons, Josh Yonce is the field master and keeps the family orchards in peach-perfect conditions. This includes proper care and pruning of the peach trees, and working closely with the picking team early in the morning to get the fruit to William Timmerman, his brother-in-law, in the packing house. The peaches then are carefully brushed, cleaned, and graded before packing. This July, William and his crew are going one step further for DLM. “We are adding a level to our process to ensure DLM gets the very best peaches from our trees. We are going to pack

a single layer box of this top-grade—exclusive for DLM,” he says. Sonny Yonce, Josh’s dad, told me they have never done this for a customer before. “You are a very important customer to me.”

As we sat in Sonny’s office, I noticed there was a Yonce family member at every step of the operation from field to shipping. Suddenly, we heard a car horn honk outside the door. “That’s probably Dad” Sonny says, who is 75 years young. “I need to explain to him how we are going to make this happen for DLM.”

Puzzled, I looked at William. “Dad?” I ask in disbelief. Yes, J.W. Yonce, now 94-yearsold, drops by daily to check

on things. He wants to make sure Big Smile Peaches remain the sweetest, freshest, and best-tasting peach the South has to offer. Just like his dad taught him.