Four Oaks Farm Country Store in Lexington really does bring the farm to you, offering an old-fashioned shopping experience that harkens back to the good ol’ days—you know, the ones that required your folks to walk those proverbial 7 miles to school and back. If they were lucky, there was a well-stocked country store like Four Oaks along the way where they could stop and get some penny candy and an RC Cola. It’s not hard to imagine such a quaint scenario. Named for the four oaks that grow on the family property just behind the store, Four Oaks offers plenty of nostalgia along with lots (emphasis on “lots”) of good things to eat (emphasis on “good”).
While the Mathias family has been farming in Lexington since the 1920s, things really went hog wild in the 1950s when Four Oaks began making sausage and curing hams and bacon for purchase. Their Berkshire-bred boars were considered some of the finest in the country and snagged many a blue ribbon at agricultural fairs and shows. In the 1960s, the farm’s feed and seed store was a hub of commerce for locals who flocked there to buy fresh produce as well as pork products. It wasn’t long before requests for shipping-friendly, vacuum-packed versions of their cured meats poured in and Four Oaks acquiesced. In the 1970s, gift boxes became a thing—a big thing—and lucky recipients were all smiles as they fried up their Christmas morning bacon and baked hams for family dinners. Holidays continue to be the busiest time for Four Oaks with gift box orders going through the barn roof. (Note: Order early.)
While you can order Four Oaks products online, there’s nothing like a visit. You will feel as if you’ve stepped into another time when service had a personal touch and goods were crafted with pride. There’s a whimsical lineup of garden goods filling the porch to the right of the entrance. Inside, the meats are the main draw. The refrigerated cases are well stocked with three kinds of bacon: applewood, hickory-smoked and black pepper, and three types of sausage available in links or bulk: onion, hot and mild. There is ham galore, sliced into steaks and whole, as well as fresh pork in its many mouthwatering versions: ribs, loins, chops and roasts.
Prepared foods go fast and run the gamut from pimento cheese and chicken salad to soups and baked goods. The tomato pies, pot pies and quiches disappear just like that. You’ll also find shelves and shelves of jellies, jams, relishes, honeys, syrups, flavored pecans and pickled everything. Produce reflects what’s locally available according to the season, though there’s also a nice selection of fresh-frozen veggies and dried peas and beans.
Tables and shelves are lined with sundry items and gift boxes brimming with all kinds of goodies: pancake mixes and stone-ground grits, brittles, syrups, nuts and those must-haves: bacon and ham. Of course, kids will swoon over the bins of old-fashioned candies and so will adults who will be thrilled to see a good many of their old favorites. (Black Cow sucker, anyone?)
For the return trip, load up your finds, pass around the sweets and remind any cranky kids that their great-grandparents would have had to hoof it back home.