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About Us

The Full Story

Little River Produce was founded in 2003 by Eugene "Devane" Ritter, Sr. and Mary Lou Ritter.  The Ritter Family has a rich farming history that spans over 150 years.  The farm has been used to grow all kinds of crops over the years, but is currently used as a vegetable farm.  It has been passed down through multiple generations. Today, the farming tradition continues with Eugene "Dee" Ritter, Jr. at the helm.

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The Beginning

John Carter, Sr. (1794-1880)

John Carter Sr. was the first member of the family to live in south Georgia.  He moved with his wife from South Carolina in 1830 to Lowndes County.  He spent most of the first 10 years here as a soldier, and was honorably discharged in 1839.  Some time between 1840-1860 he purchased and began farming some land in Lowndes County.  He began with some Cows and Pigs which grazed in the woods, and he grew some feed items for the livestock as well.  In 1858 the family home was cut out of Lowndes into Echols County where it still is today. 

Building the Farm

Martin T. Carter (1832-1922)

John Carter, Sr.'s son Martin T. Carter  followed in his father's footsteps and by 1870 he was farming with the same land as his father.  He was only farming around 8-10 acres of the 200 acres they had available, because they would clear the land themselves by hand.  Like his father he mainly had livestock (Hogs and Cattle), but he also began to grow Peanuts and Field Corn predominantly for feed for the animals.  He would sell livestock in Valdosta at the local stockyard.  And the family would grow seasonal vegetables in a garden that they would plant each year to provide for their family.

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Growing the Farm

Talley C. Carter (1872 - 1940)

Talley Carter, the oldest son of Martin's wife Olive (Oliff) was the next generation of Carters to farm this land.  He began farming in the 1890's.  He joined his father, and began to raise livestock (Hogs and Cows), he also grew Field Corn and Peanuts.  Talley grew their family farm, and eventually owned 3 separate farms.  He began to farm other commodities to sell as well, including Cotton and Tobacco.  He would go on to give each of his daughters one of the farms.  Talley would continue as his father did to grow seasonal vegetables for their family. 

Bill and Ma

William "Bill" Ritter (1880-1953) and
Lula Mae "Ma" Carter (1895-1991)

WIllam "Bill" Ritter married Lula Mae "Ma" Carter in 1915.  In the late 1920's Mae's father Talley gave her and Bill the original family farm and home.  They continued the family tradition of raising livestock and farming Tobacco and Field Corn.  They sold livestock and Tobacco locally in Valdosta.  They also harvested pine tar "gum" from the pine trees on their land to sell, which was used to make turpentine and other products.  During Bill and Mae's time they grew the farm to around 20 acres of farmable land.  After Bill passed away Mae continued to farm, and was known to be on and around the farm for the rest of her life.  She, like her father and grandfather, grew seasonal vegetables to provide for her family.

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Skipped Generation

Willie Mae Ritter

Bill and Mae's children never really took interest in the farm, each of their children and their spouses went in other directions.  Willie Mae was a seamstress at a factory in Valdosta.  She helped out her mom and later her son on the farm occasionally.  Most notably during the late 1960's and early 1970's she would help her son Devane look after his Tobacco crop while he was also working at the local paper mill.

Big Changes

Eugene "Devane" Ritter, Sr.

Eugene "Devane" Ritter, Sr. started helping his grandma Mae around the farm when he was just a boy.  He officially started farming in 1963 and he began with about 20-25 acres .  He still raised some Hogs and few Cows, but he also grew Field Corn, Tobacco, and Soy Beans.  Devane had livestock until the early 1980's, but as he grew the farm he began to focus more and more on farming.  He eventually grew to about 100 acres of land, and was growing mainly Tobacco, but he did still grow some Field Corn and Soy Beans.  The the late 1990's Devane changed everything and stopped growing traditional row crops and switched to growing fresh vegetables. 

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A New Kind of Farming

Eugene "Devane" Ritter, Sr. and Mary Lou Ritter

Devane and Mary Lou were married in 1968.  As Devane continued to farm, Mary Lou eventually went to school and became a special education teacher.  She retired from the Echols County School system.  The the late 1990's Devane changed everything and stopped growing the traditional row crops his family had always grown and switched to growing fresh vegetables.  He now grew Bell Pepper, Cucumber, Squashes, and Eggplant.  In 2003, Devane and Mary Lou opened Little River Produce.  Bill and Mae's house had burned down, and in its place Devane and Mary Lou built the packing shed that operates our business today.  Devane is still farming what we call "Homeplace"  which is the original piece of land that John Carter Sr. started on nearly 175 years ago.

A New Generation

Eugene "Dee" Rittier, Jr.

Eugene "Dee" Ritter, Jr. started helping out on the farm when he was 10-12 years old.  In 2000 Devan let him use 12 acres of land to plant his first crop for himself.  He tried to grow some Bell Pepper, and in Dee's words "it was a disaster."  Dee didn't let that stop him and pressed on.  In 2003 Dee started farming a field just a few miles from our packing shed that was one of the other 3 farms that his great-great-grandfather Talley owned.  He still farms this piece of land today.  Through perseverance and hard-work Dee has managed to build his farm from that first 12 acres of Bell Pepper to the nearly 1200 acres he farms today.  With his wife Julie, and his children Presley and Tillman, Dee hopes to continue the Ritter farming traditions for many more years to come.

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