There are very few things for me that are as synonymous to North Georgia as a good road side farm stand. If you get off the main highways and start using cut throughs and county roads, you stumble across them all the time.
They’re usually the main “retail” spot for the mom and pop farms scattered across the state. Sometimes they have doors, walls and air conditioners and other times they are nothing more than a roof with four posts in the ground. They come in all shapes and sizes and are as varied as the items they carry. Peaches, strawberries, gourds, and boiled peanuts are the staples but every now and again you run across one of the real good ones that overflows with options and variety. A market that is worth the stop every single time.
Osage Farms Produce Market is that spot for us. Located off 441 in the Rabun Gap Valley before you cross into North Carolina, the market is a road side stand that has grown into a pretty big operation.
Rabun County is actually the “Farm to Table” capital of Georgia and small family run farms dot the valleys all across the county. Osage is definitely one of the more conventional and bigger farms and because of that the farm stand stays packed regularly. It is not uncommon to come through the parking lot and have to wait in line for 5 minutes before a spot opens up. But it’s worth the wait because what lies inside (and outside) is a pretty big selection of fruits, vegetables, fresh baked breads, flowers, local meat and other foods.
You’re going to find all the regular things they grow on the farm . . . cabbage, beans, onions, tomatoes, corn, peppers and when in season . . . peaches and strawberries.
They are open from May to October and what is “in stock” pretty much matches the growing seasons of North Georgia. So don’t expect strawberries in the fall. They even have a chart hanging on the wall letting you know what to expect each month although “Mother Nature rules so the dates are just a guess”.
They also carry a few things that you they don’t grow on the farm like local meat and pimento cheese. They get fresh baked bread from a regional North Georgia baker, Our Daily Bread out of Ellijay. And they have the most amazing apple cinnamon donuts in the world made by the same baker. Sorry but there are no pictures for these as our family ate a dozen in less than 10 minutes. They’re delicious and moist and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. When you visit, by all means load up on the healthy vegetables. But do not leave without these donuts. Trust us.
Osage is a family owned farm run by Ricky and Clint James, 5th and 6th generation farmers. These guys stay busy with their team managing the fields behind the farm stand and running along 441. They also own a Christmas tree farm up on Scaly Mountain into North Carolina. When farm season starts to wind down, their Fraser Christmas tree farm starts to stir to life. You can go up to the tree farm and cut your own or you can meet them at the farm stand on Thanksgiving Day and throughout November to pick out a fresh cut tree.
Outside you can typically find literal wagons overflowing with the bigger harvests. When we went there was an old wagon overflowing with heads of cabbage. And while you can buy produce individually or by the handful in bags like you do at the grocery store, they also have nearly everything available in bulk in big boxes or bags.
Naturally, I’m going to recommend that you try their peaches and tomatoes. We had one of their zebra heirloom tomatoes and it was like eating candy. I personally am not much of a corn fan but all the locals around here swear by their corn and by dozens of ears at a time.
You would never expect it but there is an award winning BBQ shack adjacent to the farm stand that serves amazing food although they are typically only open on the weekends. They’ve won awards all across the Southeast and were even featured on Live with Regis and Kelly.
So next time you’re coming through on your way to the Western Carolinas or just want a fun day trip, be sure to stop at Osage, give Tomlin’s BBQ a try, and if you’re feeling adventurous, give the Flea Market across the street a try. It’s quintessential North Georgia stuff and every bit as good as you think it’d be.