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Opinion: Celebrating milestone on the hill
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Jaemor Farms picker Miguel Perez hauls baskets of peaches freshly harvested Monday, July 23, 2018, in one of the farm's peach orchards. - photo by Scott Rogers

The year was 1979. Around November, my father called a meeting for our family. I knew this was going to be something big because the meeting was held at the Sundial Restaurant in Atlanta. You have to understand that we didn’t eat out much because we were just simple farmers. 

Like fish out of water, my siblings and I filed into the dining area eager to hear the agenda for this family meeting. As expected, my dad had a big announcement for us. He explained his vision of building a farm market on this road that was soon to be built. A different kind of market with a different name. JAEMOR — my dad’s initials, Jimmy Allen Echols, and the first three letters of my mother’s maiden name, Valvoreth Morrison Echols.

On Jan. 5, 2021, Jaemor Farm Market turned 40 years old. Although we have been farming on the original farm for over 100 years, the centerpiece of the farm has hit its own milestone. The reason Jaemor was built is sort of a blessing and a necessity. 

The blessing is the fact that my father bought the property where the market sits back in the mid 1960s, before there was any talk of a four-lane highway going through North Georgia. 

The Georgia Department of Transportation came through in the late 1970s and sliced off about 10 acres of our property and left us a hill to build a market on. That part was a blessing too because we would later discover that the four-lane would kill a lot of business on Old Cornelia Highway. Our original fruit stand on the side of the old highway was a place where we marketed peaches and other farm-grown products since the early 1900s. 

It was a necessity that we move our business before the new highway took the traffic from our small peach stand.

To say that we have grown the market over the past 40 years would be an understatement. I know of at least 12 different expansions over the years, not counting the one that we are working on today. The farm itself has grown also, doubling in size within the last 10 years — now up to about 500 acres. 

The market is in Hall County and we love it here, but we have farm land in Habersham and Banks counties as well as another market in Banks Crossing. 

I think sometimes people stop by just to see what’s new at the market and to grab a fried pie. Whether you come for strawberries, peaches, blackberries, pumpkins, cakes or pies — we are just glad that you made a visit.

Although my mother, Valvoreth, went on to be with the Lord in September 2020, my dad continues to work in the store and around the farm. 

We can see the legacy they built in every corner of this market. With four generations hanging around Jaemor now, it’s going to be interesting to see what the next 40 years holds!

Jarl Echols

Co-owner of Jaemor Farms, Alto

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