Local fruit stands: treasure troves for locally-grown commodities and other goodies

Farm country fruit stands are often hidden gems for locals and travelers alike

Roadside farm stands can take many shapes and sizes, and offer a variety of tasty goods, from fresh-grown fruits and vegetables, to local honey, jams, pies and cookies.

Depending on where you travel in California these little gems can be a welcome sight for travelers looking for a snack not found at a convenience store.

Matt and Julie Stephenson own Tony’s Fruit Stand on Highway 70 north of Marysville, Calif. It sits firmly in the middle of orchard crops with a commanding view of the Sutter Buttes, a picturesque volcanic outcropping that rises over 1,000 feet above the Sacramento Valley floor.

Tony’s Fruit Stand offers fresh fruit in season, including stone fruit and cherries, and a mixture of nuts and honey sourced from local vendors. They’re open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Matt says he outsources a few of the items sold at the fruit stand. The stone fruit and a few other items are grown right there on the ranch.

Julie says there is a consistent following of regular customers and some new customers who help keep them busy selling local products year-round.

Stephens Farmhouse is a few miles south of Yuba City on Highway 99 and is marked with a 1936 Ford truck affectionately named “Mr. Willard.” Now that the highway is four lanes with a middle turn lane in the area travelers can more easily – and safely – turn into the roadside stand that offers fresh fruit, jams and a delicious mango salsa, and homemade pies and cookies sure to please just about everyone.

Jeff and Cherie Stephens own the farmhouse, which is open seven days a week, year-round, except for major holidays.

Jeff remains busy as a third-generation farmer while Cherie marks time with a variety of activities that include community events and fundraisers, she also travels regularly to Yosemite and Tahoe where she sells fresh-made products wholesale.

Cherie says the pies and jams came about to use fruit that was no longer able to be sold fresh. The idea is to not waste any of the fresh fruit grown on the farm. For instance, the large, fresh tomatoes that become too ripe to sell fresh get made into homemade salsas.

The next time you’re out and about and see one of these gems, don’t just drive by – take some time to stop and sample the local products these farmers offer.

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