The Moreno family’s farming roots stretch back to Mexico where Salvador Moreno Senior herded goats as a young boy. It was a long journey to Hayesville, North Carolina where he and his family now grow and sell produce under the name SMM Farms.
His son, Salvador Junior, shares their farm story. “My dad was the classic immigrant worker. He traveled all over the U.S. just working seasonally from place to place and eventually we found a place called Bryson City right here in Western North Carolina where he finally settled down.”
Salvador Senior and his wife became U.S. citizens in 2004, and eventually found a large piece of land in Hayesville that was for lease. “He went over there with just a pickup truck and didn’t even have a tractor at that point. Over the years he just kind of kept doing what he does. He’s a very pure definition of a workaholic and he got to the point where he got like a 100 acre farm and tractors and stuff and he’s just an amazing gentleman.”
The Moreno family now grows strawberries, tomatoes, and corn to sell at their fruit stand on the farm. Salvador Junior says they’ve come across some challenges running a Latino-owned business in a rural community. “My dad owns the business and he runs the farm and whenever he’s at the fruit stand we have a lot of local folks that come in and work for us at the fruit stand as cashiers. For the longest time when anyone had a question they would completely bypass him and look to the old farmer Joe looking guy and they would ask them questions. So that’s been kind of a challenge, but when you get to know my dad, everybody just loves him and now people really know him. It’s not the Latino farm. It’s Salvadore’s farm.”
He says neighbors and customers have come to embrace their family over the years. “If you try to start a business in the mountains there’s always going to be that Southern hospitality kind of thing. You can’t just have clients. You have Mrs. Anderson and you have Mr Bill. You develop these relationships with these folks and they develop it with you. When we had our first child, we had so many people bringing us blankets that they hand crocheted for our child. That’s something beyond a buyer or seller kind of relationship.”
Salvador Junior and his wife Alyssa spend a lot of time talking to customers at their fruit stand, telling them about what’s in season and how their produce is grown. They say they’re motivated to continue the family farm because they want a wholesome life for their young children, and want to share their love of local, seasonal food with the community.
“When you talk about legacy there’s kind of a dual purpose for us,” he says. “One is to keep that tradition and the values and the hard work of my my father going and bringing our family up into it. And also maybe getting some folks some really good food and the way food was meant to be.”
Find out how to visit the SMM Farms fruit stand and many others in ASAP’s Local Food Guide: www.appalachiangrown.org