By Jessica Crabtree
Driving north of Henrietta in Clay County up Farm to Market road 810 will lead you to the small community of Charlie. There you will find tree after tree of pecan and peach orchards and row after row of produce. Fresh from the ground, the land around Charlie is made up of sand and clay. Charlie resident and owner of Young’s Orchard and Berry Farm Steve Young said, “We have sandy soil with clay underneath.” The mixture proves effective for the yielding of fruit and vegetables, “Sand doesn’t hold nutrients; however, the clay underneath holds the water in. Clay is also finer material and sticks and holds tight.” Young added, “We drilled for water 20 foot and found it. We drilled further to 45 feet and run out. Here we are a part of the Alluvial Aquifer from the north fork of the Red River.”
Young is a third generation produce-grower. Originating in the Panhandle of Texas in Muleshoe, Young’s grandfather Dillard Chitwood came to Charlie in 1945 and bought property for himself and his brother. “That was a year before I was born. He [Dillard Chitwood] would spend his summers here in Charlie and winters in Muleshoe,” Young detailed.
Starting with 110 acres, his grandfather eventually added another 100 acres, developing the family’s orchard of pecan and peaches, mostly peaches. From a very early age Young and his family traveled summers to the orchard to spend time with his grandfather and work the orchard. “I remember coming here as a little boy, climbing trees. I had an attachment to here,” Young acknowledged.
In his adult life, Young’s occupation was in the business telephone system industry, where he retired from after 30 years. With the orchard being close to Young’s heart, he and wife Jan considered retirement, but first purchased 50 acres of family land in Charlie in ’96. Living in Keller and maintaining both their careers in the telephone industry, Jan with Southwestern Bell, Young’s parents J.B. and Grace Chitwood had a surplus of peaches. “My dad began having health issues. So we began to develop a market for his peaches to make it easier on him. This was the mid ‘80s, and as I worked in the telephone industry converting communication for stores, I made connections with several grocery store chains,” Young explained.
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