Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 27

Top left: Peaches are boxed and ready
for shipment from the packing shed.
Lower left: Paul Saunders looks at family photos on a worker's cell phone.
Middle: These pretty peaches are
ready for harvest.
Above left: Workers prune young
boxwoods in the field.
Above: Peaches are basketed and
lining the shelf, ready for sale at the
Saunders Farm Market.
Left: This years' 100th anniversary
plaque has been added to the Saunders timeline.

EEN PLANTING AND HARVEST, THEN A FRANTIC RUSH WHEN THE CROP COMES DUE.
that the workers laid down.
A local teenager can simply quit
a job and go home. It's not that easy
for a Mexican employee brought to
the U.S. by an international farm labor agency.
"We make sure all the t's are
crossed and i's dotted" says Jim
Saunders. "An INS agent could
show up here at any time, and we'd
have nothing to worry about."
Finally, the presence of the
Mexican workers has allowed
Saunders Brothers to move into
ornamentals and flowering plants.
The problem with growing fruit is that
there is a significant lull between
planting and harvest, then a frantic rush when the crop comes due.
With ornamentals, there is something to do year-round, but very
few American workers able to meet
that schedule. Enter the Mexicans,
who are kept busy throughout their

nine-month stay. The ones who remain year-round often move seamlessly into positions of authority.
This "new" aspect of the operation began inauspiciously in 1947.
"My Mom gave me a few boxwoods to grow for a science project
in middle schools," Paul says, "and
I just kept building it up over time,
until I was selling them to some local nurseries."
Today, Saunders Brothers is the
lynchpin of a national boxwood
research organization, and Paul has
traveled around the world to find
new strains. Several of the brothers
are regulars at national ornamental
conventions and conferences, and
the Saunders menu has grown to include many of types of shrubs and
flowers.
"When I was playing football at
Virginia Tech," recalls Tom Saunders
with a chuckle, "I never dreamed
that part of my job one day would

be looking after pansies."
In many ways, Will, Massie,
Doc, Dick and Sam Saunders
would hardly recognize the business they birthed in 1914 and
nursed into young adulthood.
Apples are still important to the
mix, but the big trees that once
required a battalion of workers on
tall ladders have been bred down
to a manageable size. The original Elbertas have given way to a
dozen peach varieties that ripen
in a gradual hierarchy of succession. The former packing shed
has been converted into a retail
outlet, because the company no
longer trucks them to distant
markets, a task now reserved for
the ornamentals. Hundreds of
greenhouses have sprung up, and
the workers are more likely to say
"Hola" than "Y'all."
And Paul and Tatum have 32
grandchildren. Life is good. 
September/October 2015 27



Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015

The Family Farm is Alive and Well in the Virginia Mountains
7 States of Mountain Treks, Complete with a Beer or Wine Stop
The Photo Essay: Autumn Beauty
Wendell Scott Gets His Due
Weekend: Where the North Carolina and Tennessee Mountains Rub Shoulders
Chillin’ in Chattanooga
Charlottesville to Charleston aboard Amtrak
Great Tastes of the West Virginia Panhandle
Cavender Cabins: Enjoy the North Georgia Woods
From the Editor
Letters / Worth a Click
Mill Creek Stories
The Hike
Creature Feature
Mountain Report
Great Home Buys in the Mountains
Country Roads
Festivals & Events
Singing in the Garden
Guest Column: Liz Belcher
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - B1
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - B2
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Letters / Worth a Click
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Mill Creek Stories
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Great Home Buys in the Mountains
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 16
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 19
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 20
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - The Family Farm is Alive and Well in the Virginia Mountains
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 24
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 7 States of Mountain Treks, Complete with a Beer or Wine Stop
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - The Photo Essay: Autumn Beauty
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Wendell Scott Gets His Due
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Weekend: Where the North Carolina and Tennessee Mountains Rub Shoulders
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Chillin’ in Chattanooga
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 46
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Charlottesville to Charleston aboard Amtrak
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Great Tastes of the West Virginia Panhandle
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 54
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cavender Cabins: Enjoy the North Georgia Woods
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Singing in the Garden
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Guest Column: Liz Belcher
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2015 - Cover4
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