Lee’s Produce has been in business for over 20 years. We are a family owned and operated farm that specializes in growing, harvesting, and selling high quality fruits and vegetables. The farm is owned by brothers Marshall and Ronald Lee. Located right on the Johnston/ Sampson county line in the little community of Meadow, NC, we currently tend about 100+ acres of fruits and vegetables. Our season begins early spring and continues through the summer to include everything from asparagus to zucchini!
Who We Are
John Ellis and Becky Lee
Grandpa and Grandma are the two people that taught all of us how to farm. They farmed many years ago as a way of life while raising their three children — Marshall, Sylvia, and Ronald. They raised tobacco, corn, and pigs as well as vegetables. They have been the backbone and support to the business since it started. Now their health will not allow them to do a lot of the physical labor but they still help out when they can. We still value their opinion and suggestions about growing and selling the produce.
Grandpa likes to grow BIG watermelons every summer, doing this as a hobby for many years. Each year he plants the seeds and carefully takes care of the watermelons, watching them grow to be anywhere from 100 to 200 lbs. Grandpa also carries on a tradition every year at Christmas where he cooks fresh ham and collards in a wash pot. What is a wash pot you ask, well it is a big black pot that was used to boil water in or to dry lard at old-timey hog killin’s back in the old days. Grandpa usually cooks over 100 lbs of collards every Christmas!
Marshall and Ellen Lee
Both of us grew up on the farm (tobacco, corn, sweet potatoes & gardening). It was approximately 10 years into our marriage that we began the “side job” of growing produce because we wanted our daughter, Shelly to learn what farming was about and to earn her own money. Marshall was employed with Diesel Injection and I was employed with NCESC. During the spring & summer, we worked all day at our public jobs and came home and worked on the farm, (planting, harvesting, and selling the produce). After 27 years with Diesel Injection and continuing to farm on the side, Diesel Injection closed and Marshall began his dream of becoming a fulltime produce farmer. June 1, 2010, I retired from NCESC and started another fulltime career on the farm. Farming is hard work, but truly a wonderful way of life. We are enjoying the time together working on the farm. Marshall takes great pride in growing produce that keeps the customers happy.
Ronald and Bridgitte Lee
Ronald is both a full-time and volunteer fireman. He and his wife Bridgitte have two children, Austin and Hunter. As the saying goes “like father, like son”. Ronald shares his true passion for the farm life and the outdoors with his two son’s. They work on the farm during the summer months helping plant and pick the vegetables along with the excitement of driving the tractors. Ronald and Bridgitte’s ambition is to raise their children as hard working young men with an understanding of responsibility and a compassion for what God has provided for them.
How we got started?
(Shelly’s story – Daughter of Marshall and Ellen)
Often times people ask me how we got started and I have to laugh! All this started one summer in the 90’s when Daddy wanted to teach me how to work and make my own money. So that summer we started with just a couple rows of cucumbers and with the help of Daddy and Grandma Becky I learned how cucumbers are planted, grown, harvested and sold. I was very proud of my accomplishment and the profit that I made. From this Daddy decided that farming would be a great “hobby” or side job for him and a summer job for me. Each summer I would help plant, grow, harvest and sell the produce. Daddy started growing all sorts of vegetables but my favorite to pick was bell peppers and hot and sweet banana peppers.
As the farm grew my Uncle Ronald joined in and became co-owner to the business. We opened a booth at the NC State Farmers Market in 1991 where I would sell the produce each day. Daddy would drop me off at the market on his way to his public job and I would sell produce every day. At the end of the day Daddy would pick me up and we would go home and pick more produce for the next day to sell. The farm continued to grow and increased to nearly 30 to 40 acres. We begin to sell to wholesalers as well as at the Farmer’s Market. As the farm continued to grow I promised myself after college that I would not farm anymore. So after 4 years of college at NCSU and a degree in psychology with a minor in business management, I got married to my high school sweetheart and entered the “real working world”. It took me about 2 years to realize that the farming life is what I knew and where I belonged. During this same time my Daddy was finally able to farm full-time and now his hobby became his way of living. I decided that I was all in for making Lee’s Produce bigger and better than it had ever been. Daddy and Ronald began to add more acreage to the farm and grow for a bigger variety of wholesalers including Whole Foods, Wal-mart, and a wide range of small companies. So now 20 years later we are still farming and providing good quality produce to our customers.
My job has changed a little through the years though. Now Daddy and Ronald take care of getting the produce grown and I try to get it to our customers. It takes the whole family to make our operation work and make sure that we maintain good quality and nothing less. So what started as my summer job with two rows of cucumbers has become a wonderful job that let’s me be a “stay at home or rather stay at the farm Mom” and watch my children grow and learn what it is like to grow up on the farm. Who could ask for more!
- Started in 1990
- Selling at the NC State Farmers Market since 1991
- Selling to Whole Foods since 2006
- Selling to WalMart since 2008
- Grew, packed and help develop another home delivery company.
- Sell weekly at Duke-Raleigh hospital for 3 years
- Started a CSA program at Duke-Raleigh in 2009