By Mary Blake, WBZ NewsRadio 1030


ESSEX (CBS) – The summer season may be over for many of us, but don’t tell that to local farm stand owners. They continue to sell summer’s bounty, bushels full of fruits and vegetables.

Take John Kusulas. He owns and operates John’s Farm Stand on Southern Avenue in Essex. You can find him behind the counter seven days a week. He loves meeting people, and his customers often chat with him a lot longer than it normally takes to pick up some corn and tomatoes.

John Kusulas (Photo from Mary Blake)

John Kusulas (Photo from Mary Blake)

Annie Fathergill, an artist from Marblehead, recently stopped by John’s Farm Stand to pick up some local produce. To her surprise, she received a tutorial on tomatoes. Kusulas took her over to a section of his stand and pointed. “This is what you call an Heirloom tomato. Do you know what an Heirloom tomato is?” he asked. When Fathergill admitted she didn’t, Kusulas explained. “Heirloom tomatoes are the original tomatoes, the way they used to be. Ugly as sin, but when man took over, they made it nice and pretty but they took away the taste,” he laughed.

He also treats many of his first time customers to raw corn. “When they tell me they’ve never had raw corn, I have ’em tasting uncooked corn. I just peel it open and I let them taste it and they can’t believe how sweet the corn is,” he said.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake Reports

You have to lean over and smell his fresh peaches before you buy one, and a taste is even better. Kusulas also has an answer for you if you can’t decide. “I have a little knife in my pocket. I take it out and I cut a piece and let the people taste it, and they realize once they taste it, they like it and so they buy it,” he said.

Kusulas is 72, and now retired. He left Greece at the age of 12, and spent most of his life in New York City. He worked in nightclubs as Maitre-D, and fondly remembers customers like Harry Belafonte and Anthony Quinn.

At other times in his life he owned a restaurant, a factory, and even once owned a donut shop. He says he loves this latest endeavor. “Instead of sitting home and nagging my wife, or my wife nagging me, I’m down at the farm stand and having a good time with the public,” he joked.

At his counter, he invariably has a greeting for his customers. “I always say how many, and they look at me like am I crazy or not, and I say, how many pies, I’m talking about pies,” he chuckled. John Kusulas is also known locally as the Pie Guy. He sells 14 varieties, everything from Apple to Lemon to Pecan and Pumpkin Pie.

While his stand is stocked with summer fruits and vegetables, there is one sign that fall is coming. The first local apples are now on display, too.

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