By Joan Durbin / Neighbor Newspapers
Milton produce market attracts residents and stars.
The circa 1930s red building with the open porch on the corner of Hickory Flat Road and Birmingham Highway is a Milton landmark.
“I remember seeing it as a kid when it was Buice’s Country Store and the Buice family lived across the road,” said Jim McClure, the structure’s current owner.
The building at Birmingham Crossroads has in recent years housed an antique store and a gift shop. But its latest incarnation as Birmingham Produce and Market is close to its bucolic roots. The market sells a variety of fresh produce, free range eggs, local honey, baked goods, jams, jellies, pine straw and firewood. Some of the grocery items are produced on the owners’ land in Milton.
“We have 10 acres, kind of a mini farm. We have two horses and a whole yard full of chickens,” McClure said. “We keep bees, and we raise our tomatoes and blueberries. So we try to sell eggs and honey and our produce when it’s in season.”
The store also sells seasonal produce from other local farmers or growers around the state when available. On the shelves are jams and jellies from northeast Georgia. “We try to buy everything we can from as close as we can,” McClure said.
McClure and his wife Karen opened the market in March.
Natives of the east Cobb/Roswell area, the couple moved to what was then unincorporated northwest Fulton County in 1996 seeking “peace and quiet, a more rural, country atmosphere,” McClure said. In commuting to his fertilization and weed control business in Roswell, McClure watched the old Buice building’s evolution.
“I saw it up for sale several times,” he said. “Most recently, a developer had plans to demolish it and the gas station nearby and build some kind of drug store there.”
The McClures bought the building and land behind it. “My vision for the place is to create a working farm in the rear five-acre tract, grow some vegetables for the store and use it to teach kids about the rural, agricultural lifestyle,” McClure said.
Despite a bad economy, the store is doing well, he said, “breaking even and more.” And its quaint charm has attracted more than just locals. Last week, a scene for an upcoming Hollywood film was shot at the market with stars Brooke Shields and Kris Kristofferson giving unsuspecting customers quite a surprise.
According to www.screendaily.com, the family-friendly movie, originally titled “Destination Home,” has been renamed “The Greening of Whitney Brown.” It is about a privileged Philadelphia teenager “who gets back in touch with herself when financial hardship forces her parents to relocate the family to her grandparents’ house in the country.”
Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood was surprised and pleased at the movie crew’s choice of location, saying the market “definitely hits the look that I think Milton is all about. I think it’s a perfect fit that will put us on the map for that look and feel. I can’t wait to see it in the movie.”