The views of the author are not necessarily the views of AllOnGeorgia.
Until recently Fort Valley really only meant two things to me.
It was home to Fort Valley State University and its legendary football coach Stan Lomax.
And also, it was home to the Peach County Trojans, one of the top high school football programs in this great state of Georgia.
But on my return to the Georgia coast from a trip to Atlanta a few weeks back, we took the long way home you might say, venturing a little off the most direct path back to south Georgia for a stop in Fort Valley and a visit to Lane Southern Orchards.
Honestly, I’d never heard of the place, and now after having been there, I am almost ashamed to admit that.
But my mom, who was travelling with me, knew right where it was, and that was a good thing, indeed.
My first visit to this place in the heart of Georgia certainly won’t be my last as I plan to go back there the next good chance I get.
When I travel the state for high school football, I like to eat in places the locals like and recommend, and I know for certain this place would be on that list in Fort Valley, and it’s on mine now, too.
My mom wanted to get some peaches, which are grown right there on the many acres of orchards on the expansive farm where pecan trees are also aplenty along with strawberry and blueberry patches and much, much more.
But, we also timed our trip home so that we could be at Lane for some good ole country cookin’ at the PeachTree Cafe located on property inside the market place.
Let me just say the Sunday Special – country fried steak, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, green beans and a homemade biscuit – sure was tasty.
The steak was crispy and tender. The mashed taters weren’t quite as good as my Nana’s, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t any good. My Nana’s were the best, and always will be. These here gave those a good run, though.
The green beans were seasoned just right, and the biscuit was so good that I was glad my mom said I could have hers, too.
I started to go with sweat tea to wash it all done, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity for the peach lemonade which was better than any other type of lemonade I’d had in awhile.
And of course, the home-made peach ice cream for dessert certainly made the little detour we made on the way home well worth it.
Me, I’m usually not much for shopping, but I did enjoy looking at all the little knick-knacks and so forth in the gift store as we walked off our lunch.
And then, I was amazed at the sight of all the peaches and all the things in the market that were made of peaches, including of course the pies and cobblers, but also the salsas and the ciders and so much more.
I asked a few of the workers how many peaches were sold inside the market on a daily basis. The teenage boy working there told me it must be millions, but he said it with a smile as to admit he was exaggerating.
Another older lady said getting to that answer would be like finding a needle in a haystack.
So, between the two answers I got, I just assumed it must be a bunch, especially considering all the people I saw just in the short time I was there filling up their grocery carts with small and large boxes of these fresh Georgia peaches.
You can take tours of the orchards and also tour the packing plant which you can see from inside the market, but the assembly lines weren’t working on this particular Sunday, which I assumed was a day of rest.
It is a sight to see the packing taking place one worker told me. “A lot of people enjoy seeing it,” she said about the process which takes the peaches from the tree to the box to be sold right there in the market or to be shipped out to who knows where all over the country.
Outside the market, you can rock in a rocking chair on the front porch, perhaps while eating that home-made ice cream on a hot summer day. Or you can take the kids or grandchildren over to the little play area that includes swings and such.
The parking lot was full of mostly cars and trucks with Georgia tags, but I saw license plates for Florida, New York and also Illinois.
I took that to mean they’d maybe been told about this place, or maybe they just happened on it while travelling the interstate or even the back roads on a summer trip through Georgia.
But whether someone is a local, born and bred in the state or just passing through, I would like to think that everyone’s take on the Lane farm would be that it has Georgia written all over it.
It’s a pretty cool little place, appropriately located right smack in the middle of the Peach State.
You should check it out next time you’re in the neighborhood.
And make sure you sample the peach ice cream. You can get it in a cone, or by the cup, but it’s delicious either way.