OCEAN ISLE BEACH, NC (WECT) - At one time, Brunswick County had vast amounts of land that was used for farming. But today, those giant tracts are few and far between, especially after the golf course industry moved in.
In the Ocean Isle Beach area, there is a business that has been around since the early 1980s on land that has been in two brothers' family for over 200 years.
At one time, tobacco was king in North Carolina, including in Brunswick County. Hundreds of acres were grown in this spot along Highway 17, on land that ancestors of brothers Kelly and David Holden had farmed for over two hundred years. But that was prior to 1984, the year the Holdens decided to make a bold change from what crop they were producing.
"I kind of saw the handwriting on the wall with tobacco, and figured it was on its way out, so we gradually evolved into vegetable production," said Kelly Holden, one of the owners of Holden Brothers Produce Company.
Today, Holden Brothers Produce has become a landmark in the area.
The land became part of their family from a grant in 1756 from King George the second. It is now the ninth largest farm in North Carolina that has remained in the same family, and because of its farming history, has the distinction of being a Bicentennial Farm.
"Vegetables, they lose their flavor, they lose their taste and texture over a period of time, and, you know, when you buy it in a grocery store, it has been thru several houses and facilities before it reaches the consumer," said Holden. "So we pride ourselves in harvesting our produce and on the same day, bringing it up here and making it available."
Today, a week of vacation at the beach begins with a stop by their produce market. However, that means planting several of the same crops, just at different times of the growing season, to make sure there is plenty of produce.
While sweet corn is usually planted just in the spring, the Holdens continue to plant it until mid-August, which means, weather permitting, it will be available much later in the year. Same for produce and fruits like melons, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers.
"People want fresh," said David Holden. "That is the name of the game, fresh and it has to look good."
And that say their reputation for always having what the customer wants, and the freshness of it, is what brings people back to their market, year after year.
Kelly Holden also said because we have not suffered thru a lot of hot, 90 degree days this summer, pollination of plants has been much better than in years past, and it has resulted in an abundance of produce and fruits this season.
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