WINDBLOW — All roads once again lead to northern Richmond County’s produce stands, even though the signs saying N.C. 73 is closed remain.
But the barriers that for months have blocked N.C. 73 past the Windblow-Derby Road crossroad are down, lying unused on the roadside in front of a defunct service station. That happened Friday, in time for Fourth of July peach sales.
“Oh, yeah,” peach grower Danny Bynum crowed when asked whether the road opening had helped his sales. “Yeah, yeah. It sure has.”
Bynum’s orchards and produce stand are on N.C. 73 in northernmost Richmond County, but Montgomery and Moore counties are close at hand to the east. And from those latter counties come the folks who buy most from Bynum — a self-proclaimed “tri-county man” — and the neighboring Lambeth family of Derby Farms, who now have fresh corn and peaches for sale.
“I’ve got 200 names on the list for Windblow peaches,” Bynum said Thursday.
Mary Kate Lambeth said her family was having difficulties with N.C. 5 in Aberdeen, which has been under construction for months, causing havoc with a family produce stand. But, she said, “you can actually get to Derby before you get to that (washed-out area), so it hasn’t been bad for us (and sales on Derby Road).
“Danny’s the most affected of all the farmers,” she said.
Peach lovers hereabouts say Windblows are the best, Bynum explained: Freestone and juicy, they don’t brown when cut and are perfect for cooking and canning.
“That’s the favorite peach of everyone,” Bynum said — especially his out-of-county customers, who he said were delighted to learn that completed bridge repairs had moved state transportation officials to reopen the road, negating the need for westbound drivers to employ GPS and a tortuous series of turns onto green-shrouded country roads.
For several months, N.C. 73 has been closed because of a washed-out bridge on the Montgomery-Moore County line just east of Richmond County, making it impossible to move easily between Ellerbe and West End or other points east.
A North Carolina Department of Transportation spokesman said Thursday that by the coming weekend, the contractor should remove the orange warning signs marking the road closure.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]