As a truck driver, Sammy Hansford has spent much of the last two decades on the road. At times he would be gone an entire week, only to return to his family's home in Oconee County late Sunday and leave on another long trip the following day.
Hansford's life on the road often left him feeling distant from family and friends and out of touch with the community, he said.
"It's an ideal place to meet up with people," Hansford said. "I thoroughly enjoy it."
About five years ago, Hansford's daughter, Holly Jackson, came up with the idea to sell boiled and fried peanuts at a stand in front of the Krimson Kafe to customers passing through town on their way to or from UGA football games. Hansford thought it would be a great part-time opportunity, and he and his son, Scott, opened Paw Paw's P'Nuts and Such. (Hansford's grandchildren, Makylah and Hollis, call him "Paw Paw.")
It wasn't long after that that the father-son team joined the Oconee Farmers Market, and they've been selling there ever since, Hansford said. Though at first business was slow, it has now picked up, and in order to prepare for the crowds, they must boil 50 pounds of peanuts for about 10 hours the night before a game/market day, he explained.
Not only do the Hansfords sell boiled and fried peanuts (shelled and unshelled), but Sammy's wife, Gwen, and Scott make fig and strawberry preserves The market's youngest patrons also enjoy pickles on a stick, another product available at the Paw Paw's P'Nuts and Such booth. And pork skins are another favorite.
This year Scott began making three varieties of beef jerky from cuts of London broil, which have been popular, Sammy Hansford said.
For the Hansfords, it's important to give back to the community that has supported them. From time to time they participate in fundraisers by donating 100 percent of sales to a good cause. Most recently, Paw Paw's P'Nuts and Such set up shop at the Oconee County Celebrity Softball Game and Home Derby and gave all earnings to the Oconee County Historical Society's fund to build a new sign for the Watkinsville Cemetery. They did the same following the Night of Blue Lights fundraiser back in March that helped families of fallen officers.
"I just feel like we've been lucky to live and work in a good community and we'd like to help out always," he said.
Hansford hopes to retire from truck driving in a few years and devote more time to Paw Paw's P'Nuts and Such.
Aside from the market and game days, you can spot Paw Paw's P'Nuts and Such at other community-wide events like First Fridays in downtown Watkinsville, the Fall Festival, and the Fourth of July Celebration. You can also keep up with business on Facebook.
Here is a list of other items vendors will have on hand at the Oconee Farmers Market this Saturday from 8 a.m. until around noon on the back lawn of Eagle Tavern.:
- Grass-fed Senepol beef
- Turnip greens
- Cut flowers
- Wildflower honey
- Mint tea
- Lip balms
- Boiled & fried peanuts
- Pork skins
- Beef jerky
- Pickles on a stick
- Pound cakes
- Decorated gourds
- Gourd instruments
- Recycled jewelry