by David Cecelski
One of my favorite produce stands anywhere is on US 182 in Lincoln County. A very friendly farmer named Melvin Gales operates the stand in the North Brook #1 community, 10 or 12 miles west of Lincolnton. The community’s name comes from a local schoolhouse, one of a trio of old North Brook schools that gave their names (#1, #2, and #3) to the little communities around them.
When I was there the other day, Mr. Gales told me that he keeps the stand mostly to sell produce from his own farm. Right now he’s got fresh cabbage, beets, green onions, and other spring crops. But he sells almost anything grown locally—muscadine grapes, pecans, peaches, and much else when it’s in season. He also sells eggs, hoop cheese, and some non-local produce to keep customers happy until his crops are ready for harvesting.
A neighbor woman, Mrs. Henrietta Camp, also makes preserves and pickles for him. When I was there, I purchased a quart of green tomato pickles that she put up last autumn. They’re an exquisite delicacy, and an ingenious way to save the last green tomatoes on the vine just before the first frost of the year. Mrs. Camp makes hers with small, whole green tomatoes, not sliced tomatoes, which I had never seen before.
For me her pickled green tomatoes are a little reminder that I can always find good things at Mr. Gales’ produce stand. It’s a lovely time of year to make a little detour that way, too: on NC 182 the farmers grow a lot of spring wheat and it’s already high in the fields and just beautiful on a breezy day like today.