Tables and coolers were covered in a rainbow of fresh produce at Madrac Farms’ ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday morning. The dazzling veggies were so unique they could have been mistaken for some exotic import.
But not at Madrac. All the produce available at this produce stand was grown in and around Effingham County — and that’s how Melissa and Guerry Reagan and family intend to keep it.
"We will not buy from South Carolina; we will not buy from Florida," said Melissa Reagan. "So you’re not going to get an avocado or an orange, but you’ll get stuff that’s grown right here in our area and it’s enough to sustain yourself."
The Madrac Farms fills its own nook in the Effingham produce market by offering customers a Produce Pack weekly or biweekly delivered to the home or office filled with the seasonal fruits, herbs, vegetables and a homemade loaf of specialty bread available from Madrac Farms and other local farms. The Produce Pack is available as a subscription a month at a time and comes with recipes for every item in a five-, eight- or 10-pound bag. Customers can add eggs, all natural meats and honey to their orders as well.
"It makes you, I think, appreciate your food more, where it comes from, and you’re supporting local people at the same time," Reagan said.
Reagan’s goal behind this boutique produce service is to get customers eating food grown in Effingham, knowing exactly where it came from, rather than something grown hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. They already have delivered to more than 100 families.
"We’re gathering up the freshest stuff in the county," Reagan said, adding that everything they sell was picked from the ground no more than five days before its delivery or sale.
Madrac Farms derives its name from the first three letters of each of Melissa and Guerry’s daughters Madelyn and Rachel. Melissa Reagan said that she was inspired to utilize the family land and start a business after the family’s construction business slowed.
She visited a pumpkin patch in Nebraska and decided that Effingham needed an authentic pumpkin patch for the fall as well, and the ideas grew from there.
But wait, pumpkins don’t grow in these parts.
Reagan opened a hand to show hot pink and brightly speckled pumpkin seeds for a special type of pumpkin developed at the University of Georgia called the orange bulldog pumpkin that does grow in south Georgia. She said that the grooves are more pronounced in these pumpkins.
"But it’s a pumpkin," she said. "It’s a Georgia grown, right here in Effingham County, pumpkin, which makes it so cool."
The pumpkin patch is expected to open Oct. 1 and also should feature a corn maze. In addition to cutting the ribbon on the new Madrac fruit stand off Ralph Rahn Road, Father Wes Lamb of St. Boniface Catholic Church blessed the fields at Madrac Farms, and visitors enjoy a variety of fresh produce and homemade bread. For more information, visit www.madracfarms.com.