There might be more beautiful stretches of historic Highway 89 in Utah, but the nearly 10 miles from south Willard to north of Perry is perhaps the sweetest. Along the “fruit highway,” maybe 10 established multigenerational farmers’ fruit stands—along with many growers selling out of flatbed trucks and trailers—sell in-season fruit from the area.
This year’s harvest has ripened slowly, though. Some people called Pettingill Fruit Farms in early July asking for peaches because they’d bought them at this time last year. But there were no peaches. “Our father [farm owner Gay Pettingill] is 84 and had been in business since 1947, and he says this is the strangest weather he’s ever seen,” co-owner Steven Pettingill says. A wet May, followed by a cold June, reduced the cherry harvest—the season’s first fruit—to less than 5 percent of the average.
A sampling of those few Bing cherries convinced me that the sugary pop was 100 percent there, though; local fruit is decidedly better than what you’ll find in the grocery store. As warm weather settles over the tasty byway, apricots have begun to blossom and are followed by peaches—of which Pettingill offers 50 varieties—melons, berries and, finally, apples, all grown on their nearby 130 acres.
Heading north, fruit shoppers can visit the stands of Tagge’s Famous Fruit, Nielson’s Fruit & Produce and Matthews Fruit Farm, to name a few. “Saturdays are our big days. Tourists will hit all of the fruit stands and then come back and load up before they head home,” says Jean Davis, Pettingill fruit-stand manager, adding there are probably more stands on this stretch than elsewhere on 89. Come during the week to avoid peak traffic; before making the drive, visit Pettingill’s Facebook page for updates on what’s currently in season.
PETTINGILL FRUIT FARMS
8815 S. Highway 89