Shady Acres is located north of Hattiesburg between Seminary and Sanford. It is my favorite fruit stand.
When you first see the Shady Acres sign on Highway 49, 12 miles north of Hattiesurg, you assume this produce stand is no different from a dozen others where you stop for home-grown tomatoes and corn. But climb the steps (holding onto the wagon wheel handrails) and cross the porch filled with crates of sweet potatoes and customers in rocking chairs contentedly licking ice cream cones, and you realize this store has more layers than a Vidalia onion.
Martha Mixon or her teen-aged daughter, Brandi, is usually inside greeting customers and ringing up sales. Martha and her husband, Tommy, opened Shady Acres 14 years ago. Your first stop should be the lunch counter to order the best old-fashioned hamburger in South Mississippi. This is no fast-food, paper thin sliver but a fat, juicy, well-seasoned burger with a thick milkshake and a side of home-cooked fries. Grab a table and chair on the porch and dig right in.
After lunch, pick through the apples and peppers overflowing from bins and reach for a bag of unshelled peanuts. Then stroll over to the table covered with freshly-baked coconut cakes, pound cakes and pecan pies made by local ladies. When you have selected a dessert to take home, browse among the enormous selection of mostly local jellies, jams and pickles: cinnamon spiced peaches, bread-and-butter pickles, pineapple pear jam, fig jam and honey-mustard salad dressing. If they are labeled "Lucy's," they were made by Lucile Mixon, Tommy's mother. Most of the others were made by locals.
As if all this were not enough, Shady Acres has a gift shop stocked with toys, quilts and crafts. Martha says, "We ship our homemade products and make gift baskets." For more informantion, dial 601-772-4130
(by Mary Leigh Furrh Mississippi Magazine Sept/Oct 1998)