August 2017
Farm & Field

Fresh Is Best

Wanda and Wayne Moseley provide locally grown, affordable and great-tasting produce in Washington County.

 

Wanda and Wayne Moseley are well-known for their fresh, locally grown produce. Their customers know seasonal fruits and vegetables from Hillside Farm will be of the highest quality.

Fresh, flavorful, seasonal fruits and vegetables are producer-grown locally in Leroy.

Summer brings lots of flavorful, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and finding them near home is an added treat. Wanda and Wayne Moseley believe that locally grown foods are always the best. The Moseleys grow seasonal produce on their Hillside Farm in Leroy, a small community in Washington County. They pick daily, assuring the food is fresh and full of nutrients. Along Highway 43, their customers look for the red truck with a big sign saying, "Fresh produce grown in Leroy, AL." The Mosleys also market their producer-grown crops at local farmers markets in Jackson, Wagarville, Chatom, St. Stephens and Grove Hill.

The couple’s excellent reputation for quality and good prices has earned them many loyal customers. Some call to find out what will be available each day, while others place their orders weeks ahead and then come directly to the farm when their produce is ready. Still others follow Hillside Farm on social media, ordering what they need.

"At the farmers markets, we have good customers who come just for what we are offering," Wayne explained. "People want fresh food produced right here at home. We take care of things for our customers, and they know it!"

Evelyn Roscoe always comes to pick in her pearls and Sunday dress. “She is amazing,” Wanda said. “She looks like this when she finishes, too!” Roscoe has a prosthetic hip that prevents her from bending her leg. Still, she can out pick everyone on the farm, a feat Evelyn is very proud of.

 
   

The Moseleys farm 15 acres, growing a wide variety of favorites such as peas, butter beans, tomatoes, eggplants, squash, snap beans, sweet corn, cantaloupes, watermelons, okra, peanuts and pumpkins. The long, South Alabama growing season allows them to plant crops to harvest at different times, as well as successive plantings of the same crops that mature first in midsummer and again in mid-October. They irrigate their crops from two deep wells on the property.

"Last year, I was able to pick watermelons in November," Wayne laughed. "I’m realizing that we’re not taking advantage of our growing seasons. They seem to be getting longer and longer. I want to push the seasons longer so we can get more of some things such as peas, okra and melons."

For the Mosleys, peas are their most requested product, followed closely by butter beans. They can never seem to grow enough butter beans to meet demands, but they are working on solving this problem. They also sell many bushels of okra, a plant that loves the hot, humid South Alabama climate.

"I try to plant things I can work with my tractor," he explained. "Instead of using herbicides, I get out and hoe. This helps me be more active.

"Kevan Tucker, Clarke County Extension Coordinator, showed me how to control weeds by putting down plastic mulch sheeting. He even loaned me his own spreader and told me about the biodegradable kind of sheeting."

 

Bobby Farrish, left, buys fresh corn from the Moseley Red Truck Market. The Moseleys’ granddaughter, Sydney Smith, runs this market.

Since then, Moseley and a neighbor, Dale Cunningham, have made their own spreader from an old cultivator.

Wayne is a Vietnam veteran who worked a short time at Ciba Geigy in McIntosh. He left the mill to help his brother on Moseley Farm, a 1,200-acre farm producing cotton and peanuts. Wayne and Wanda have always planted and sold crops from their own Hillside Farm. However, after Wayne retired five years ago, he wanted to stay busy, so he planted even more produce.

The Moseleys offer both you-pick and pick-on-halves. Many customers enjoy harvesting their own vegetables, and the Moseleys like having people come to the farm to fellowship, visit and talk about old times.

"I don’t like to pick anything but okra," he laughed. "Wanda likes to pick everything. She picks, and I use my pea sheller to shell. It seems to work out for us."

For many years, Wanda worked as a seamstress for an interior decorator. Her sewing talents were well-known in this area.

"One day, when I came in after picking string beans, I thought to myself, ‘If I can enjoy being out in this heat, it’s time to quit sewing and keep picking!’" she recalled.

And that’s just what she did. She helps her husband in all aspects of the business.

The Moseleys use Facebook to advertise and sell their produce; however, most of their goods are sold by word-of-mouth. They are also a part of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program and the SNAP Program. In addition, they supply homegrown vegetables to some grocery stores in Jackson.

The Moseleys get their farm supplies from Farmers Cooperative Market in Leroy.

Daniel, Sydney and Allie Smith help their grandparents with their produce business.

 

 

 

After purchasing Sweetlix protein supplements, they recycled the black tubs to start container farming on their back deck. They have satsuma, lemon and fig trees, as well as pepper and tomato plants in their containers. This year, Wayne and Chris Giles planted containers and took them to seniors who were not able to plant their own gardens.

"I call it share-cropping," Wayne laughed. "It gives these folks a chance to garden, which they love, and they share their joy with me!"

The Moseleys plant a quarter acre of cotton, so locals can use the field for pictures. A friend brings his mule wagon to serve as a backdrop. They have also planted a large patch of pumpkins that will be ready in October for school children to pick. They have a hoop house where they grew broccoli, tomatoes and peppers in 2016. This year, they are planning to plant on a larger scale.

"It gets really hot here," Wayne explained. "I want to use my hoop house to extend the growing seasons and produce even more food. I’m just learning about growing strawberries in there."

Peanut harvesting time is an exciting event for the Moseleys. Many visitors come to the farm to pick-on-halves. Last year, the Moseleys welcomed many pickers, some in their 80s and 90s, who enjoyed remembering when they had picked as children. Wayne believes relationships and fellowship with others add years to anyone’s life.

"My granddaddy owned a fertilizer business," he said. "I think he lived many years longer because he was around people, talking and visiting, and helping others."

Will Rogers once said that a farmer had to be an optimist or he wouldn’t be a farmer. That has certainly been true for the Moseleys this year. In late June, Tropical Storm Cindy brought strong winds and heavy rainfall that lingered over a week. Some crops such as tomatoes, eggplants and cantaloupes suffered some damage.

Wanda and Wayne provide local, affordable foods that taste good and are good for you. As good stewards of the land, they work for a greater purpose than their own; they grow foods that not only feed the body but also the soul.

 

Carolyn Drinkard is a freelance writer from Thomasville. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..