If you have ever traveled through South Carolina extensively, odds are you have passed through McBee, SC at some point. As of 2020, McBee has a population of 977 people, making it a very small town. However, not only is the town known for being one of the leaders in building railroads back in the day - a farm in the town is known for its amazing peaches.
According to their website, macspride.com, McLeod Farms is a family business that has been operating since 1916. Owner, Kemp McLeod, is the fourth generation to work in the family orchard. He learned all about the farm business from his father, Campbell McLeod. The farm operates one of the largest peach orchards in the area, with over 1000 acres of production. They grow over 30 varieties of peaches in the town of McBee.
Although Georgia labels itself as "The Peach State", South Carolina is actually the leader in peach production in the Southeast, something many people do not realize. Georgia comes in second, followed by Virginia.
McLeod takes their business very seriously, and they have a special process when it comes to picking their peaches. The peaches are picked every day on the farm, then sent through an ice-cold water bath to slow down the ripening process, according to their website. They are then sorted by shape, size, and color.
It takes about 40 employees to run the farm year-round. However, when the peach season arrives around late May through August, the number of employees skyrockets up to 200. The employees work extremely hard to ensure that millions of pounds of peaches will be ready to be shipped to all parts of the U.S. and Canada, and it is not unusual to work from daylight to dusk on some occasions.
In addition to growing peaches, the farm also has 60 acres of strawberries and 15 acres of blackberries. They also grow soybeans, field corn, brown-top millet, grapes, zucchini, potatoes, peas, okra, and rye.
When you are there, do yourself a favor and try out their peach ice cream at the shop. As a kid, my family would pass through McBee all the time and go to McLeod Farm. In addition to getting some amazing peaches, it was a tradition to get some peach ice cream before going back home! To this day it is my favorite ice cream flavor!
You can visit McLeod Farms at 29247 Hwy 151, McBee SC, 29109. They are open Monday through Friday and can be reached at 1-843-335-8611.