It’s become a staple to many locals traveling between St. Augustine, Hastings, and Palatka; that tin-sided shack on the side of the road just at the St. Johns-Putnam county line with its “SHUT” sign hanging lonely on the side. The question always pops up around the end of summer: “When is County Line opening?” The answer is always the same, though people seem to forget – it’s just in time for Thanksgiving!
The Friday before Thanksgiving saw that “SHUT” sign put away (at least, during business hours!) and soon the dirt lot just outside of Hastings was full of people coming and going. By the time PluggedInto stopped by on Tuesday afternoon, the business was roaring with cars and the lot was almost full. The five familiar faces of County Line rushed about fulfilling orders of all sizes, some carried away in bags while others had to be loaded into boxes carried by two people. In the rush of people getting fresh ingredients in time for their Thanksgiving dinner just two days away the team worked with a speed and grace that almost seemed choreographed, always with the trademark friendliness that made customers feel like family despite how harried the busy produce stand got.
At the front counter a woman picks out eight pounds of pole beans, while near the coolers a young girl selects the perfect jar of honey. Cantaloupes are clasped, avocados are assessed, eggplants are examined, and squash are scrutinized while tractors roar in bearing trailers laden with freshly-clipped cabbages. Despite all of the hustle and bustle, however, the line moves quickly as items are weighed and bagged, and people are soon getting back in their cars just in time for another volley of customers to pour in.
It always seems like we wait forever for County Line to open, and it’s always exciting to tell friends and neighbors when it does. We’re glad to see them still getting us ready for the holidays after 51 years! County Line Produce will stay open until their last crop (corn) comes in, which is around June. They’re open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. every day of the week, closed only for major holidays.