Mar 20, 2019
At ten years old, most of us were exploring the outdoors, riding
bikes, and maybe playing with dolls or legos. However, today's
guest was busy growing his family's business; Perkins Orchard. Join
us as we interview Donovan Alexander Watson about the importance of
buying local, supporting local farmers, and connecting the
community with farm fresh produce.
Things You Don't Want To Miss:
Meet Today's Guest.
- 00:42 - Donovan Alexander "Alex" Watson is the owner and CEO of
Perkins Orchard. It's a family business
he took over when he was just ten years old. Perkins Orchard is
that largest and oldest fruit stand in Durham, North Carolina. Alex
transformed his grandfather's fruit stand into a full-fledged
business. He's here to share his story.
The Alex 101.
- 4:08 - Alex's grandfather started Perkins Orchard started as a
roadside produce market in 1970. However, his grandfather also
pastored the Apex First Baptist Church, and around 2004, he started
a divinity school within the church. The fruit stand proved to be
too much work, and Alex's grandfather had almost closed it down
when Alex stepped in to run the business. At the time, Alex was 10
years old, and he handled everything from inventory and finances to
customer service. Fast forward to 2013; Alex tore down the original
fruit stand and expanded it to a three-acre operation.
Painting A Picture.
- 6:34 - Perkins orchard sits just off of Barbee Road in South
Durham, North Carolina. As you turn off the main road, a gravel
driveway gives way to a sprawling three-acre outdoor market. They
work with three hundred farmers in twelve states, and they're about
to begin their 49th season in business.
Keeping Others In Business.
- 9:50 - Perkins Orchard works to keep other family farms in
business. Alex began writing checks to producers when he was 15,
and as Perkins Orchard expanded, their producers were able to buy
more land, grow more crops, and provide for their families. Many of
these farmers are local to North Carolina. They also contract with
Chiquita, Del Monte, Welch's, and Sunkist. Their goal is to support
local farmers while also providing customers with produce that
isn't native to our state.
The Perkins Orchard Story.
- 14:48 - Alex's grandfather started Perkins Orchard 49 years ago. At the
time, there were several neighbors who operated various produce
stands off of Barbee Road. It was a suburban area of Durham, and
many folks sold produce out of their front yards. Perkins Orchard
started with just a couple of tomato boxes. It was never meant to
be more than a hobby. It was a respite from the stress that came
with being a pastor, and Alex was blessed to transform it into a
Hitting The Road.
- 22:32 - In addition to running the business, Alex is constantly
on the road picking up produce. Many of the pickups happen in
Raleigh, but you'll often hear of Alex hitting the road for South
Carolina or Florida to bring in fresh produce. He says the thrill
of waking up before dawn to meet his farmers runs in his
Lessons From The Orchard.
- 25:18 - Alex finds there's a certain camaraderie in his
relationships. He relies on his farmers to take care of his
customers and provide them with a high-quality product.
Connecting With The Community.
- 33:30 - Alex makes it his mission to impact the community with
his business. He seeks to educate people on why it's important to
buy locally, he partners directly with farmers, and he makes it his
goal to provide produce that's superior to other grocery store
products. Perkins Orchard even hosts other local vendors and tries
to connect with the community via community events. One year, he
made artificial snow and invited the community to come out for hot
chocolate and football. He says it's his way of building
relationships with others.
A Fun Fact About Alex.
- 39:00 - He dreams about becoming a meteorologist. He shares his
passion for tracking snow as well as his high school hobby of
sending out weather reports.
The Vision For Perkins Orchard.
- 40:26 - Alex is currently immersed in several small projects
including expanding the parking lot for customers and adding plum
trees by the business' 50th season. His long-term goal is to open a
brick-and-mortar farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Durham that
features local meats and produce.
Getting To Know Our Guest:
- 42:23 - Alex shares his little-known love for Katy Perry, and
unpacks how he might survive solely off of watermelon from his
fruit stand. He expresses his desire to glean wisdom from former
President Barack Obama.
A Memorable Moment:
"I'm grateful for the life I've been brought up in, for the
family who has raised me, and for the resources I've been provided
with in life to create my own path."
- Donovan Alexander Watson
To visit the Business With Purpose website, click the