Mary Pearson baking with granddaughter Adeline.
When Mary McLennan married Al Pearson and she first visited his farm in Fort Valley, Ga., she looked around and didn’t see any corn, cotton, soybeans or cows and wondered where the farm was located. She quickly realized that her husband was taking his father’s advice: “if you ever make any money, you are going to make it off of a tree.” So there she was surrounded by peach and pecan trees from day one, never thinking that 44 years later, she would be involved in a new venture for the Pearson family: selling their products to customers all over the nation.
Today Mary Pearson is the founder and creator of Pearson Farm’s Retail Division, known as Mary’s Kitchen. Mary grew up in a family where healthy, natural food was a value and cooking together was an event. The union that is now in its 44th year was the perfect marriage of the recipes from her childhood and the peach and pecan farm that some would say produces the best peaches in Georgia.
In addition to maintaining the image of Pearson Farm through marketing and customer service, Mary shares some of the old family recipes she grew up on with the world. Pearson Farm’s cakes and pies are inspired by old family recipes and baked with natural ingredients and love, just like the recipes from memories of Mary and Al’s childhood.
Using Their Own Ingredients To Expand Their Product Line
Mary is working steadily to bring her family’s 100-year-old farm into the future. As part of Mary’s day-to-day responsibilities, she oversees the operational side of the retail division. This includes quality control of their products, as well as product development. She creates all of the recipes for the homemade items that are sold on the site and was instrumental in leading the farm’s rebranding efforts several years ago that included a new logo, all new packaging, catalog, photography and website.
“We are developing new recipes and products built around what we grow. Our goal is to expand our offerings from the Pearson Farm kitchen using natural ingredients without preservatives. the same way I cook in my kitchen at home. We look forward to continued growth in pecan sales, and hope that a good peach crop will increase our shipments of fresh peaches. We certainly hope the increase in sales comes from growing great products, excellent customer service and a lot of hard work”, Mary said. For 2016, Pearson Farm hopes to eclipse $1 million in sales.
The Future of the Farm
More than 130 years ago, in 1885, Moses Winlock “Lockie” Pearson and his wife, Cornelia Emory “Emma”, moved to Fort Valley and planted the first peach trees for the Pearson family. Today, Pearson Farm employs approximately 50 full time employees. That number surges seasonally to 150 in the spring, 200 in the summer and about 70 in the fall.
Although not a Pearson by birth, but because of her 44-year marriage to Al, she is as much a Pearson as could be and therefore traces her history back four generations. Mary and Al have three children – Mary Katherine, Lawton and Laurie and eight grandchildren.
Al and Mary’s son Lawton is evenly yoked with his father in the Pearson Farm operation, and Mary said he is perfectly capable of handling things as they grow and move forward as the fifth generation to manage Pearson Farm. Mary hopes the legacy of Pearson Farm will be that through the generations, integrity in all products and in service was consistent and that the history of the Pearson family and Georgia peaches and pecans continues to be honored for generations to come.