Good Earth Produce owner believes in eating local

Good Earth buys from area farmers for freshest offerings

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Not many people can say they have been working on their careers since they were 10 years old, but that’s what Rick Catts has done.

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Good Earth Produce's owner Rick Catts gets as much of his produce from local farmers as possible - most from farms within a 75-mile radius.  Sara Caldwell/Staff
Sara Caldwell/Staff
Good Earth Produce's owner Rick Catts gets as much of his produce from local farmers as possible - most from farms within a 75-mile radius.

Catts, the owner of Good Earth Produce and Garden Center on Davis Road, had a neighbor with a produce stand, and Catts asked if he could work for him on the weekends.

“That’s where it all started,” he said.

He started Good Earth 17 years ago in Aiken, selling plants and produce for 10 months out of the year.

Last September, he moved the business to Augusta and plans to be here for a while.

“Hopefully even longer than 17 years,” he said

Good Earth is built on the belief that fresh and local produce is the best kind, and Catts gets as much of his produce from local farmers as possible – most from farms within a 75-mile radius.

“People want to buy stuff that is grown near them,” he said. “People are getting a lot more conscious about eating local.”

When Catts says his produce is fresh, he’s not stretching. The tomatoes he sells are often picked the night before, and all of his peaches come freshly picked each morning.

“Our main draw is that it’s so much fresher,” he said.

Catts’ best sellers are those tomatoes and peaches.

He has more than 35 varieties of peaches, and they all come from a farm in Edgefield County. His tomatoes include a Cherokee Purple heirloom variety and giant vine-grown tomatoes perfect for sandwiches.

“Every customer is going to walk out of here with peaches and tomatoes in their bag, just watch,” he said with a laugh.

In between answering questions about his business, Catts fielded questions from customers about different tomato varieties and how customers should store ears of corn.

His decades of experience showed as he conversed freely about a certain tomato’s “smoky, rich flavor.”

That experience and personal interest is something he believes is a key to keep customers coming back.

“We’re going to talk to everyone of our customers,” he said. “If you’re making customers happy, they’re going to tell their friends and they’re going to keep coming.”

Talking about produce keeps him happy, too, and Catts said he can’t imagine himself doing anything different.

“I love it. It’s exciting, it’s never the same thing every day,” he said. “I probably work more hours working for myself, but I enjoy it. I really do.”

Good Earth has three to eight employees, depending on the season, and Catts said his average employee has worked with him for more than three years. Such low turnover means each employee has a deep knowledge base to help customers.

“The help is excellent,” customer Darlene Scales said. “Everything is so well-organized, and you can see and touch everything.”

Scales regularly buys produce from Good Earth, and she said she strongly believes in supporting local farmers and local businesses. She, her husband and her father all own small businesses, so she knows firsthand how important that support is.

“Local businesses won’t make it without community support,” she said.



EDUCATION: Brookland-Cayce High School, Columbia

FAMILY: wife, Cyndi; daughter, Sally, 21; son, Jamie, 19

HOBBIES: saltwater fishing, gardening, riding motorcycles

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InChristLove 08/22/11 - 06:09 am
Did not know this business

Did not know this business was there but glad this article was written. I'll be checking it out.....thanks AC

agrit 08/22/11 - 07:50 am
Other than picking the

Other than picking the produce myself, this is the best around. And the friendliest folks in town.

mtxbass1 08/22/11 - 08:08 am
They have great tomatoes. As

They have great tomatoes. As long as they're open, I'll never buy them from anywhere else.

seenitB4 08/22/11 - 09:11 am
Great article....:)

Great article....:)

willie7 08/22/11 - 12:47 pm
Will check them out this

Will check them out this weekend. I love good fresh tomatoes!!!!!

Cadence 08/23/11 - 01:21 pm
Did this replace the smaller

Did this replace the smaller place that was there or did the original just expand business? Just curious.

About 30 years ago there was a small veg stand on Scott Nixon before there were any apartments, Walmart, Sams, or anything else and Anderson's pool/pond was the highlight of my summer. It was a pool with a dirt floor and a good many drownings every year. Sorry, just took a turn onto Memory Lane.

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