Waiting on the Grey Van
On May 27, 2019, our friend Mr. Otis Bray left his earthly home to join the angels in heaven. He will be missed dearly.
A tribute to one of the best, Mr. Otis Bray:
Mr. Bray (maybe Mr Otis} showed up at our farm 10 or so years ago to get some pecans. We started talking (Imagine That!) and I learned about New Hope Baptist Church and the Plant-a-Row program that he was involved in. It sounded like something we could help with, so we made plans for him to get back in touch before peach season. He called , we answered, and a special relationship began that has resulted in a crew from Fayetteville showing up every Tuesday during peach season to load, transport, and deliver tens of thousands of pounds of fruit to the needy families of Fayette County. He organized the weekly visits with volunteers, pickups, his van, and trailers to get the ripe peaches back to Fayetteville for immediate delivery. He was such a delight to be around that our whole crew looked forward to Tuesdays with Mr Bray and a varied bunch of wonderful people who shared his passion for service and his love for his fellow man. He was always concerned with the peach crop and was so knowledgeable about growing fruits and vegetables and wanted to share that knowledge with all who would listen. Just today, two of his crew showed up at Pearson Farm to continue the work he started. We have been blessed to know him and will miss him terribly, especially on Tuesdays.
Al and Lawton Pearson and everyone at Pearson Farm
This has been my first full summer at Pearson Farm in many years, and it has definitely been a summer to remember. Long, hot days filled with the sights and sounds of the peach packing house, afternoon snacks of sweet, juicy peaches and more smiling faces than I could begin to count. We have guests show up who are just passing through, locals who need peaches for canning and baking, truck drivers picking up loads of peaches to carry across our great country and still others who come just to sit in our rocking chairs and enjoy a bowl of our delicious peach ice cream. Many are first time guests, and many more are repeat customers, but I have to admit, that the ones that show up every Tuesday morning about 10:00 am have come to be my favorites. My heart gets a little flutter when I see that grey van pull in the parking lot because I know the back is loaded down with peaches and the sweetest man is sitting in the passenger seat.
The first time I met Mr. Otis, I felt an instant connection, a kindred spirit. He has a heart for children, a heart for the needy, a heart for the lonely…….he has a servant's heart. As I have gotten to know Mr. Otis and the lovely ladies, Janet and Becky, who bring him every week, I quickly realized that he is surrounded by human angels. I could never begin to tell you what an impact that this man and these women have had on their community. Suffice it to say, that through their gift of gardening, they have changed the hearts and lives of thousands of men, women, and children throughout their community, and they have definitely left their mark on the heart of the Pearson Farm “FAMILY.” Every Tuesday morning during peach season, his grey van, along with many pickup trucks, arrive to be loaded with boxes and boxes of peaches to take back to Fayetteville and the surrounding communities.
Pearson Farm has been donating these peaches to Mr. Otis and his band of angels for a few years now. Due to strict sale standards by grocery stores, we have a small percentage of our peaches that cannot be sold commercially. There is nothing wrong with them, they just have no shelf life and need a “ready to eat” home. The partnership between Pearson Farm and these folks has been like a marriage made in heaven.
Earlier this season, Mr. Al and I followed their convoy back to Fayetteville, so we could see firsthand where the peaches were going. To say I was humbled, would be an understatement. The work these amazing people are doing in their community is nothing short of God sent. Our first stop was a church whose freezer was filled with boxes of peaches for their food pantry. In the church parking lot, a car was loaded for the sweetest lady who told us stories of the peach cobblers and dinners her group makes to feed the homeless on a street corner in Griffin every Friday night. We spent time at yet another church watching volunteers filling sack lunches that would be delivered in a local neighborhood to feed at-risk children. We then went to Mr. Otis' home where we witnessed cars and trucks pull in and pick up peaches that were being delivered to childrens' group homes, senior adult centers, food banks and homeless shelters. We ended our day at the Real Life Center, an incredible program serving families in Fayette County. We shook hands and hugged men and women who thanked us over and over again….… they were thanking us?!?? I have to admit, after what we had witnessed, we were embarrassed that these people who are giving so selflessly were thanking us ....for some peaches.
As this peach season draws to a close, I will certainly miss these weekly visits from Mr. Otis, Janet and Becky, and I will look forward to next May when that grey van makes its way back down to Pearson Farm. Mr. Otis called last week and told me that he was writing a thank you letter to Pearson Farm, and he wanted me to post it. Honestly, I was hesitant because I know that Mr. Al and Lawton also belong to the human angel population and provide these peaches as an act of true servitude. Their motivation is from a place of God-centeredness not self-centeredness. They want no attention or reward and would never want any recognition that would take away from the work Mr. Otis and his people are doing. However, because #1, I couldn't tell Mr. Otis No; #2, it gave me an opportunity to share just a little bit of the incredible work he and his group are doing for their community; and #3, I am so proud of the Pearson Farm “FAMILY”, I decided to make it this weeks “FAMILY” post. Thank you so much Mr. Otis, Janet, Becky and the rest of your wonderful volunteers! The Pearson Farm “FAMILY” is honored…..let me say it again, we are HONORED to be associated with you and to be able to offer a small contribution to the enormous work you are doing for your community. Most importantly, we feel blessed that we can call you a part of our “FAMILY.”
Dear Al and the Pearson Farm Family group,
We have come to the end of another amazing peach season. Your generous contribution of 48,600 peaches during the summer of 2016 has put peaches into the mouths of at least 20 plus shelters, homes and food banks that we supplement with vegetables and melons from our Plant a Row for the Hungry initiative.
The following is a partial list of those the Pearson Farm have helped to feed fresh, beautiful peaches:
Christian City Children's Home (48 children)
Murphy Family – 17 special needs children adopted from foster care
Five Loaves and Two Fishes food bank Griffin, GA
Fayette County Youth Protection Home
Fayette County Battered Women's Shelter
Calvary Refuge Center in Forest Park – homeless shelter for women and children
Clayton County Senior Adults in financial need
2400 school lunches program for children identified as at risk
Griffin Women's shelter
Wellspring –shelter for women trying to escape prostitution
Carver Road Baptist Church food pantry Griffin, GA
Pleasant Grove Church food bank in Jackson, GA
Vineyard Church food bank in Senoia, GA
Share the Meals for the homeless in Griffin, GA
New Hope Baptist Church food bank Fayetteville, GA
Real Life Center Food Bank Peachtree City, GA
Samaritan's Food Bank Fayetteville, GA
Fayetteville First Baptist Church homebound ministry
The Pearson peaches are a special treat for these people. The peaches add a new dimension to our distribution. Most of these children and many of the adults have never had a tree ripened fresh peach. It is a special blessing to see their joy as they receive your gift. All the Pearson Farm employees have been extremely helpful in supporting this project. We are so grateful and humbled by your support.Everyone leaves a footprint. The Pearson Farm family footprint is very large and pointing in the right direction.
Otis Lester Bray