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Almond lovers highway between Escalon & Manteca
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Visitors from all over make the stop year-round to the various produce stands along Highway 120 to get their fix of almond goodies and other locally grown fruits and vegetables. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

Roasted, coated in chocolate or in popcorn. Almonds are available in every which way.

Just ask the folks at Denise’s Farmers Market at 16569 E. Highway 120 in Ripon.

With the Almond Blossom Festival fast approaching, the family-owned business is fully stocked with over 20 different almond confections. It is one of a number of produce stands that line East Highway 120 between Manteca and Escalon that offer a wide variety of almonds from natural to the exotic

Try coconut honey, cinnamon honey, yogurt, butter toffee, dark chocolate brittle, and vanilla, to name a few.

Denise and Kenny Eastburn of Modesto are the proud owners of this produce stand that opened about three years ago. It’s here that one section is devoted to almonds.

On Friday, manager Heather Maria was in the process of preparing an almond boutique valued at about $70 specifically for the Almond Festival.

The basket of goodies included packages of cinnamon honey almonds, milk chocolate covered almonds, and coconut honey almonds, and caramel corn, okra chips, sun sweet apricots, snack crackers, and a bottle of zinfandel.

“But everything here can be purchased individually,” said Maria, who indicated that the boutique baskets are available for any occasion.

Besides almond, Denise’s may be best known for corn nuts.

“We have them flavored, too,” she said. “The (corn nuts) are made locally and are crispy.”

As in the past, Maria is expecting more visitors come Almond Festival time.

“We’ve seen people stop here from all over the world,” she said.

Tour buses en route to Yosemite National Park and other destinations along the way along Highway 120 will stop at Denise’s and some of the other produce stands.

Maria often works with owner Kenny Eastburn’s mother, Nana, and daughter, Katie, at the produce stand.

“I’m a jack of all trades,” said Nana, who works as a cashier and greeter for the family business.

PLACE: Denise’s Farmers Market

LOCATION: 16569 E. Highway 120, Ripon

INFORMATION: 209-402-4902

Nature’s Country Corner

For nearly 30 years, Nature’s Country Corner along Highway 120 and Jack Tone Road.

It’s there that quality fruits and vegetables – all locally grown – can be found there.

Nature’s Corner also carries almonds and other nuts along with dried fruit, jams, salad dressing, flavored olives and an assortment of homemade pies.

PLACE: Nature’s Country Corner

LOCATION: 18033 Jack Tone Road, Manteca

INFORMATION: 209-239-5901

Jacob’s Produce

Almonds, nuts and other fresh fruits and vegetables, pending the time of year, can be found at Jacob’s Produce located just outside of Manteca.

PLACE:  Jacob’s Produce

LOCATION: 10954 E. Highway 120, Manteca

INFORMATION: 209-239-2400

209 staff reporter