A farmer peddling homegrown vegetables door to door from the back of his old pickup, once a common sight in Lexington neighborhoods, seems quaint today.
Coleman and Callaway Stivers have revived the tradition, but with a twist.
One day recently, the brothers loaded a wagon with tomatoes, potatoes, squash and eggplant that they'd grown and went up and down the streets to sell it in their Lansdowne neighborhood.
"What do you have today?" asked a delighted Dennis Boyd, one of their regular customers. He bought tomatoes, cantaloupe and a watermelon.
"If the watermelon isn't good, we'll bring you another one," Coleman assured him.
The boys chatted with Boyd and played with his dogs, Dusty and Lexi.
"This is better than farmers market," Boyd said. "They bring everything to your door."
Down the street, they rang Susan Burberry's doorbell. With a big smile, she came out to shop from their yellow wagon, buying okra and green beans.
"Little potatoes go good with beans," said Callaway, 10.
OK, she'll take a couple pounds of potatoes, and put in a few yellow squash.
Coleman, 14, added up her bill. "That will be $8," he said.
"What a bargain," Burberry said.
She reminded the boys to bring "all the cucumbers you can. I make bread-and-butter pickles."
Customer Evelyn Tingle asked, "Do you have corn?"
Sorry, corn season is over, they told her.
The Stivers are students at the School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Coleman is a piano student; Callaway likes art. The start of the school year means gardening time will be cut back but not abandoned.
The boys started gardening four years ago, under the watchful eye of their grandfather, retired University of Kentucky agriculture professor Charles Byers.
The surprising bounty of what they could grow in a few raised beds in their back yard on Malabu Circle sparked the idea for Stivers Brothers Home Grown Produce. There were so many tomatoes, so many beans. "We didn't have a clue what to do with them all," Callaway said.
So they started selling.
Three years later, they have sharpened their gardening skills and business savvy. This spring, they distributed flyers asking neighbors who wanted vegetables on a regular basis to sign up. Instead of knocking on every door, they now have about 15 regular customers.
"Some people don't know how to cook vegetables," Callaway said. The brothers hand out copies of their mom's recipes for benedictine spread, zucchini pineapple cake, yellow squash casserole and more.
"They're all tried and true," he said.
Coleman and Callaway have a second garden at their grandfather's farm off Versailles Road.
"We grow big stuff out there like watermelons and pumpkins and corn," Callaway said.
When selling, Coleman carries the money pouch. Back home, he counts the day's take and logs it into their sales book. But each has memorized, to the penny, how much money they have made: $409.80 last year. $644.65 so far this year.
"We made $73 one day," Callaway said. "That's our one-day sales record.'
As with any retail venture, some days are better than others.
"Some days are bad, because not that many people are home," Coleman said. But other days, Callaway chimed in, "We have to go back to the house three times to restock."
This year they expanded, planting apple and peach trees, and raspberry and blackberry bushes. And they are keeping bees. Coleman is the designated hit man to rob the hives this fall.
For the third year, they are entering vegetables in the horticulture division of the Kentucky State Fair, which opened Thursday. Last year, the Stiverses won 44 ribbons between them.
These two city boys have learned the challenges that farmers face, including weather, insects and critters.
"Birds have been really bad this year," Coleman said. And a pesky squirrel can take a bite from a big, beautiful tomato, and "that ruins the tomato," his brother added.
And there's not much money to farming. "We make about a dollar an hour because we worked so hard this year," Callaway said.
But Coleman said he thinks he will always have a back-yard garden. "I'll share what I grow with my friends," he said.