Chicago peach lovers line up for Tree-Ripe Fruit truck fresh from Georgia

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Peach season is so close you can almost taste them, and thanks to one Wisconsin business you'll be able too sooner rather than later.

Fans of Michigan peaches know they have to wait another month or so to get the fruit at its peak. However, since the growing season in the Southeast is earlier, one Wisconsin business decided nearly 30 years ago to just send semi-trucks down to Georgia, pick up the peaches and drive them back to the Midwest.

It's a summer tradition, made even more popular this year due to the fact people just want something to do and somewhere to go.

The trucks will be making stops all over Chicagoland over the next several weeks and our Hungry Hound had a chance to see one of first fruit drops of the season in action.

Despite the heat, peach fans line up early at the American Legion in Gurnee, knowing they won't see local peaches until August.

"So you get 'em early and you enjoy them, then you can get them again in August," said Judy Bowes from Grayslake.

They're waiting for the Tree-Ripe Fruit truck, which in today's case, has made an 850-mile trip up from the Pearson peach farm in Georgia.

"They have a very good turnout of people that come to their locations," said Jill Barth, who drove down from Milwaukee.

"Well they are delicious. They're very juicy. They're big. They're fresh," she said when asked if it was worth getting there an hour-and-a-half early.

"There is a strict one box limit," one of the workers reminded people in line.

If you think you can talk your way around getting a second box, think again. They're as precious as gold. and the 300 boxes they brought to Gurnee were gone in about an hour.

"We bring fruit up from the growing regions in this country - Southeast predominantly - and we bring it up to Wisconsin and the Midwest," said Tiernan Paine, Owner of Tree-Ripe Fruit.

Paine's grandfather, a Wisconsin farmer himself, started the business 30 years ago. He used his connections to begin bringing the fruit up while still in season.

"There's just something very special about the farms in Georgia. Their growing season is June through August, so we can get up here, bring Georgia peaches and provide them to everyone."

Paine says this year has been absolutely crazy, with demand through the roof.

"We feel like it's the perfect storm. It's the Covid situation; people are able to do something, most things are cancelled and when they find out about these - these are very special peaches, and so when people find out about them it's just created something that's unprecedented. Everywhere we go, it's literally more people than we can pick peaches for," Paine said.

Tree-Ripe works with about five different farms this time of year, but even with that many peach trees to harvest, they only have so many trucks making the round-trips each week.

"We're running three full-time semis this year, so we have about 10 or 11 locations every single day," he said.

They cancelled stops in River North, Morton Grove and Tinley Park this year, which puts extra pressure on the remaining stops; but they do have drop-offs coming up in Batavia, Crystal Lake, Elgin, DeKalb and McHenry. They plan to make a return visit to that American Legion parking lot in Gurnee at the end of July when they'll also have Michigan blueberries.

For more information, visit https://www.tree-ripe.com.

Upcoming Stops in Illinois:

Batavia

Batavia Moose Lodge
1535 S Batavia Ave, Batavia, IL
Saturday July 11th from 9-10:30am
Saturday August 1st from 9-10:30am

Bradley - Bourbonnais
Blain's Farm & Fleet
1811 N State Route 50, Bradley, IL
Friday July 10th from 12-1:30pm
Friday July 31st from 12-1:30pm

Crystal Lake,
Countryside Flower Shop
5301 E Terra Cotta Ave (Rte 176), Crystal Lake, IL
Saturday July 25th from 10:30am-12pm

Rockford - Loves Park
Blain's Farm & Fleet
7300 E Riverside Blvd, Loves Park, IL
Friday July 10th from 12-1:30pm
Friday July 31st from 12-1:30pm

Sycamore - DeKalb
Blain's Farm & Fleet
1300 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore, IL
Saturday July 11th from 12-1:30pm

East Dundee - Elgin
Milk Pail - El Gran Paseo
14N630 Rte 25 (Dundee Ave) 1/2 mile north of I-90, East Dundee, IL
(the truck will be in the south lot)
Saturday July 11th from 12-1:30pm
Saturday August 1st from 12-1:30pm

Gurnee
American Legion Post 771
749 Milwaukee Ave., Gurnee, IL
Saturday July 25th from 1:30-3pm

McHenry - Johnsburg, IL
Palace Bowl
3400 N Richmond Rd (Rte 31, 1-1/2 mile north of Wal-Mart), Johnsburg, IL
Saturday July 11th from 3-4:30pm
Saturday August 1st from 3-4:30pm
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