Reed’s Produce

Oh no, not Betty Reed’s! I looked at the pictures in the Review Appeal first, before reading the big headlines, or scanning the story — Richard Reed carrying baskets of petunias, with bananas, pears, oranges, and yellow onions on tables behind him, and then an outdoor shot of customers browsing through annuals and perennials in front of the business  facade. The article begins, “Tomatoes spill out of boxes like red Christmas ornaments near stacks of eggplants and cabbages as plump and colorful as balloons.” [Kevin Walters] Reed’s Produce Stand has been serving customers from its Fourth Avenue site for 40 years. Now the city plans to use eminent domain to take over that land for a Third Avenue road extension to Hillsboro Road. Number One, no, city leaders, this cannot happen! Number Two, this is my own private shortcut, and I wish you’d stop telling people about it.
Pink Butterbeans

Pink Butterbeans

Reed’s Produce is a local institution. I can’t think of summer without Reed’s. Through the long cold months of winter, I long for the ripe, hot smell of peaches filling the air and wafting on a summer breeze, swirling under the mimosas and along the river. Box after box, basket after basket of peaches and green apples and summer vegetables. Fresh tomatoes, okra, squash, cucumbers, shelled creme peas and butterbeans. . .

When I went looking for butterbeans to be photographed for the cover of my book, the first place I scouted was Betty Reed’s, but alas, she only had shelled beans in her cooler.

Reed’s Produce is in the Library of Congress! My book contains a story that gave it this distinction. It begins:  “Last Saturday morning, I put some frozen Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits in the oven. They cook up like the real deal. That first bite of hot biscuit spread with blackberry preserves I got last summer at the produce stand on Fourth Avenue by the Harpeth River put me back in time smack dab in the middle of my grandmother’s kitchen at jelly-making time.”

Reed’s Produce is a destination. I go to downtown Franklin just to visit the stand and buy fresh vegetables. For the ambiance, for the old-time feeling of being at grandma’s farm, for the low prices, for the fresh, homegrown food. On the way to or from my destination, I might buy gas at the Mapco, or a bottle of wine, or stop for lotion or film at Walgreens.

I’ve lived in Franklin 20 years, and I’ve been a regular customer of Reed’s for many summers, selecting tomatoes, peaches, squash, okra, and butterbeans. I buy preserves and jellies and honey and chow chow. I even buy herbs and flowers and ferns there. A few years ago, I bought big flat stones to make an outdoor sitting area in my backyard.

I can’t do without Reed’s! Mayor, what are you thinking? Aldermen, what are you thinking? Franklin is an old town, founded in 1799. We bathe ourselves in the pride of traditions, of yesteryear. We are a mix of the “old” and the “new,” and we should strive to keep it that way. We live among dwindling old establishments and progress, pastoral scenes and development. A downtown diner that serves fried chicken livers. An upscale restaurant serving fancy shrimp and grits in a newly remodeled old factory. Old decaying barns and cows grazing beside four-lane bypasses. It’s what makes our town special.

Embrace it.

Please, leave that patch of land that houses Reed’s Produce intact! Please save this Franklin institution. Please save my peaches and tomatoes!


2 Comments on “Reed’s Produce”

  1. inktarsia says:

    Fight for this one, Kathy! Send those letters to the newspaper editor, write to the civic leaders (feed them biscuits with blackberry preserves), picket out front in gardening boots. Mobilize the PTAs and church groups. Submit a feature article. Local farms are not just sources of good taste & nutrition; they’re part of our national security.

  2. We had a farmer’s market in Pensacola called Bailey’s Farmer’s Market. It was in operation for more than 100 years. They have now closed, citing the economy. I sure do miss them. They had a huge “jolly green giant” cutout by the parking lot. My favorite day there each year was early in the morning the day before Thanksgiving. Sigh. Hope Reed’s Produce survives.

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