North Chattanooga resident Amanda McCurdy has lived all over the world, from England to Nicaragua. But at this point in her life, all she wants is a parking place big enough to hold her trailer-based business in Coolidge Park, Amanda's Fresh Fruits and Flowers.
After attending a wedding in Chattanooga seven years ago, McCurdy said she has traveled to the city every three-day weekend just to sit by the water.
"I thought, 'All I need is a little piece of ground,'" she said. "It doesn't take much space to do something really special, welcoming and inviting."
What she has created is all of those things, combining elements of fruit stands she has seen internationally with a few of the other things she loves most: baked goods, plants, people and sunshine. With help from her church family at Calvary Chapel, McCurdy made her idea a reality near the end of May.
The result is uniquely Chattanooga, and is quickly becoming a prime photo opportunity for the city's tourists. McCurdy said at least one person has taken her picture daily in the five weeks she has been operating Amanda's Fresh Fruits and Flowers.
She has found the spot she rents at the foot of the Walnut Street Bridge to be ideal for selling items such as fresh fruit kabobs and strawberries and cream pound cake topped with homemade whipped cream.
"Fruit stands are lacking in Chattanooga, and it's such a progressive, health-oriented city I thought people would be responsive to the idea," she said.
McCurdy's fresh 8-inch kabobs and fruit cups have proven to be a draw on hot summer days for locals and tourists alike. The kabobs have seven kinds of fruit, with seasonal options including pineapple, mangoes, cherries, honeydew melon and grapes.
"I use whatever's good, ripe and in season," she said of the fruit selection in her cups and kabobs. "I'll be adding local figs this month."
Other popular items include fresh watermelon slices and drinks such as fruit smoothies and cherry limeade.
"I sell smoothies more than anything else right now," said McCurdy, whose smoothie offerings change according to which fresh seasonal fruits she finds available locally, banana-peach being the current option.
She also concocts other unique beverages, such as traditional Nicaraguan remolacha, which contains cooked beets and fresh-squeezed orange and lime juices, inspired by her time spent in the country working at a mission station.
In addition to fruits, customers can also grab healthy snacks such as energy bars and nuts.
For dessert, people love McCurdy's chocolate pot de creme, savoring the rich dark chocolate topped with berries, she said.
"It's a chocolate fix and a half," said McCurdy.
She plans to stay in her parking spot for at least a year, keeping the stand open nearly year-round until park visitation begins to slow down in the winter.
She keeps two bistro tables next to her trailer for customers to enjoy tea, locally ground French press coffee and her famous scones.
While scorching temperatures keep McCurdy from stocking many blooms at present, as the weather eases up she plans to be the source for park visitors on dates to purchase bouquets.
She said she would eventually like to purchase another trailer to travel in the city's food truck circuit, bringing her fresh goods to downtown locations such as Miller Plaza and Warehouse Row.