As far as this husband and wife are concerned, Georgia is the perfect place to grow pecans. Initially meeting each other in the first grade, the charming southern couple were both raised in the Fort Valley and Perry region. While Chop’s father exposed him to various cultures with extensive overseas travel, he later chose to return to his roots. Chop and Brenda reconnected watching their two boys at a Westfield high school football game in 1997 — and have kept their family planted in Middle Georgia ever since.
While growing up, both became familiar with farming, as their respective families owned modest peach orchards. “Raising peach trees and producing peaches is like holding a melting ice cube in your hand,” says Chop. “Peach trees tell you what to do, but pecan trees don’t as they aren’t as time sensitive.” So after inheriting the land and realizing the true potential of pecans, the duo decided to trade in their families’ peach trees and exclusively grow America’s native nut. And grow they did.
The Evans’ operation started out as a 127-acre pecan orchard that produced approximately 40,000 pounds of pecans. When Brenda started in the business in 1997, Chop had 1,900 acres. More than 20 years later, the Evans’ farm has flourished into an 8,000-acre operation that spans eight Georgia counties.
But don’t let the size fool you. The Evans stay true to their humble beginnings, maintaining a steadfast focus on family. In fact, being a family-run business is their favorite part of the job. Not only do two of their sons run day-to-day operations on the farm, but each and every one of their devoted employees is regarded as an extended family member, too.
“The group we have working for us,” says Chop, “is as good as it gets. The passion and dedication they bring in to work every day, you just won’t find that anywhere else. I don’t know if it was luck, hard work or God looking down on us, but without them we would be out of business.”
As for their favorite way to enjoy pecans, Brenda likes them lightly toasted — but loves to snack on them raw any time of the day especially during harvest season. And Chop, as a true southern gentleman, loves the classic southern dessert, pecan pie with a generous scoop of ice cream.