Hundreds visit collard patch in Durham to honor, remember beloved farmer
Posted November 25, 2021 4:29 p.m. EST
Updated November 25, 2021 5:44 p.m. EST
Durham, N.C. — For over a decade, many people would rush to a collard patch in Durham ahead of Thanksgiving.
The man who started growing the collard, Allen Powell, at 2107 Hamlin Road died last year.
But, due to such a high demand, his son, John Powell, is now carrying on the legacy.
About 4,000 collards were planted this fall. While hundreds of people have visited to purchase the collards, John Powell said picking the green this year had a bigger meaning than ever before.
"My sons, Owen and Charlie, and my wife, Robin, helped me this year plant them," said Powell.
Thursday marked a calm Thanksgiving day at the collard patch after a very busy few weeks.
“My father passed away Sept. 23, 2020. About a month after, I had to help him put the collards in the ground. So, I kind of had to finish out the season for him,” said John Powell.
Powell's father was a well-known tobacco farmer in Durham.
John Powell said his parents moved to Durham in the 1960s, and his father worked for the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Allen Powell then bought his Durham farm in the early 1980s.
Throughout his life, John Powell captured Allen Powell on camera watching him work in the field.
“I was thinking in my mind that it might be the last one I take of him and it was," said John Powell.
Before he died, Allen Powell was growing collards in order to keep the acre of land in good use and make fresh crops more accessible to the community.
“He had grew such a loyal, dedicated customer base that I really wanted to make sure that everybody had some collards in the area for Thanksgiving,” said Powell.
With another holiday reflecting on their loss, the Allen Powell Memorial Patch sign is visible standing on Hamlin Road.
Allen Powell was remembered for more than the thousands of large collards he sold, but as a storyteller, a mentor, and a good man.
“Not only did you get a collard, but you got a story whether you want it or not," said John Powell.
“There was a 90 year old woman. She couldn’t get out of the car to pick her collards, but he helped her get on the golf cart and drove her through the field,” said Robin Powell.
People across the country have stopped by the patch this year.
The Powells said they're thankful this experience is bringing more people together.
“Growing these collards have helped with the grieving process. Other than talking about him and getting a little choked up this whole experience has been positive. Like I said before, it’s brought joy to me like it used to bring joy to him,” said John Powell.
“Its the legacy that makes you proud that we can carry-on in his name. It means a whole lot,” added Robin Powell.
The collard season is coming to an end, but John Powell said he will continue to the sell them until they’re all gone.
He will then prepare for another year here at the memorial patch.