Mar 27, 2024
Mr. Peach, labor advocate recognized

Lawton Pearson, owner of Pearson Farm in Fort Valley, Georgia, was honored as 2024’s Mr. Peach at a Jan. 6 awards breakfast at the Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference in Savannah, Georgia.

Pearson’s ancestors first planted trees in central Georgia in 1885. Now the fifth and sixth generations of Pearsons work on the farm, which includes more than 2,000 acres of peaches and 4,000 acres of pecans.

Will McGehee (left), of the Genuine Georgia Group, presented Lawton Pearson of Pearson Farm as the 2024 Mr. Peach.

“This year’s recipient could quite possibly be the most deserving recipient industry has ever had,” Will McGehee, a Pearson cousin and founding partner of the Genuine Georgia Group, said.

“His peach operation entails a technologically advanced packinghouse. Nobody is happier doing what they do for a living than him just farming.”

Pearson Farm plants, harvests and ships peaches and pecans that are grown on the same land and similar to how Lawton’s forebears farmed. He and his wife Lanier manage Pearson Farm’s production, retail and mail order businesses.

“He has a library of notebooks that would make the Smithsonian jealous,” McGehee said. “He is an encyclopedia of knowledge to all who call him for ideas and guidance. Trust me, his phone rings all the time people asking him advice. His ability to recall that history and learn from it is one of the most important things a good farmer can do.”

Pearson has been chairman of the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Peaches and Pecans, an officer of the Georgia Peach Council, a Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association board member, and was involved in the Georgia Cotton Growers Association.

In 1885, Moses Winlock “Lockie” Pearson relocated his family from a nearby county to grow peaches on the region’s level and fertile soil. The couple’s oldest son added more land and planted more peaches. His children and the offspring of one of Lockie’s grandsons worked in the groves and packinghouse.

In the 1970s after college, great grandson Al Pearson joined his father in farming. After finishing law school, Lawton Pearson chose to return to the farm. He and his father Al purchased the business in 2008.

“I don’t think you’ll find a more humble person who puts everybody else’s needs before his own. He is genuinely compassionate,” he said. “What better can be said of a man than to be super successful at what he does and to be completely selfless at the same time?”

Dan Bremer Service Award

Courtney Hamilton Griffin, director of operational support for Southern Valley

Courtney Hamilton Griffin of Southern Valley Fruit & Vegetable is the second recipient of the Dan Bremer Service Award, which honors advocates on behalf of employers and ag worker supporters. Bremer presented the award.

Fruit & Vegetable in Norman Park, Georgia, is the second recipient of the Dan Bremer Service Award, which honors those who advocate on behalf of both employers and those who support opportunities for ag workers.

Bremer, president of AgWorks H2 in Valdosta, Georgia, presented the award during the ceremony.

“Common sense and H-2A really don’t go together,” Bremer said when introducing Hamilton Griffin. “She’s been trying to put some sort of semblance to it. She gives generously of her time to work with elected officials and regulators to help them understand the real world conditions on the farm.” Hamilton Griffin is a member of the Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2023.




Current Issue

Cover image of Fruit Growers News (FGN) July 2024 issue.

Talking tech: New app innovations aid growers

Smart tech wipes out pests: The latest trends in spraying automation

New Geneva rootstocks to help apple growers with size, yield, disease

Georgia peach success: Pearson Farm’s six generations find orchard happiness

FIRA preview: Tree fruit tech options abound at ag robotics conference

Fresh Views: Grapevine disease management tackled

Farm Market & Agritourism: Insights from the 2023 farm markets survey

National Plant Diagnostic Network


see all current issue »

Be sure to check out our other specialty agriculture brands

produceprocessingsm Organic Grower