By DARLA HIGGINS,
Growing up, Courtney McCurry Sr. was serious about raising cattle. But his father, Donald McCurry, had other ideas for how to use their land.
“My dad would run it by me every summer: ‘Courtney, let’s do four acres of watermelon together,’” he recalls. “I was just very headstrong about cows.”
Things changed one night in 2006, when his father was killed in a train accident driving home from work.
“My dad planted a garden on a Monday and got killed on a Friday,” McCurry says. “My uncles came down for the funeral and asked me to finish his garden for the year.”
McCurry did as he was told, and that was all it took.
“I got on the tractor, and I fooled around and fell in love with gardening,” he says with a laugh. “I decided, ‘This is what you need to do.’”
The Jefferson native now owns and operates McCurry’s Produce, which is often set up on Highway 59 near the entrance to town. Visitors to the stand can find tomatoes, squash, onions, potatoes, cucumbers and purple-hull peas at this point in the season.
“This is my living,” he says of his business. “We just bought land and built a new house, so farming has been really, really good to me.”
McCurry, who has a wife, 1-year-old son and another baby soon on the way, says the profession hasn’t always been easy: “I built this business off of faith, tears and pennies.”
Times were so tough at one point that he had two options: Allow the electricity to be turned off at his house, or buy seeds and fertilizer. He bought the supplies.
Looking back, McCurry thinks the timing for starting his stand worked out well, because he’d been laid off from his assembly-line job. So he began to do more and more gardening – and soon realized that good, fresh produce is something people will pay for.
Whenever he’d be out tilling, planting or picking, “people would come by and ask if I wanted to sell the peas or greens or whatever,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘Okay, there’s some money in this.’”
And it’s also something that he’s now developed a passion for, just as his father had.
“My dad was my hero,” he says. “He would have been very, very proud.”
For information on McCurry’s location on a given day, or for a list of what he has for sale, call (903) 738-3066 or visit his Facebook page.
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