Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Honesty goes a long ways at roadside market October 19, 2010



Mounds of squash for sale at George Denn's roadside market.


BY GEORGE, that George is a mighty trusting fellow.

But, hey, the system must work for George W. Denn, purveyor of pumpkins, gourds, squash, hay and straw bales, corn shocks, apples, honey, popcorn, wheat, pumpkin seeds and books—I think that’s it—along Blue Earth County Road 2 on the Blue Earth/Le Sueur county line.

When you pull up to George’s roadside spread northeast of Mankato by Wita Lake next to his farm, he’s nowhere to be seen. That’s where the word “trust” factors into his Hey by George! business.

The Christian pumpkin farmer-writer relies on his customers’ honesty to simply deposit their payments in a secure metal box attached to the side of an old truck. Signage directs shoppers to “PAY ON OTHER SIDE” or to “PAY HERE.”

Apparently the system works. Or, if it doesn’t always work, perhaps George figures his business can survive a few stolen pumpkins, gourds or squash among the thousands he’s displayed.

If anyone happens to take one of George’s $14.99 inspirational books or some of his produce without paying, he/she may want to turn to page 35 in Hey By George!.

George reveals that he’s not only mighty trusting, but he’s also mighty forgiving.


You pay on the honor system, depositing your money into a box attached to the side of this old truck.



The money goes here, in this secured box, as directed.



If you can't find the perfect pumpkin here, then you probably won't find one anywhere.



A kitschy sign lists the price for corn shocks.



Piles of squash for purchase.



A close-up of the bumpy squash at Hey by George!



Heaps of squash at Hey by George!



Wispy wheat makes an artful display beside the wheel of the old truck.



Colorful squash next to the old truck are for sale.



Jars of wheat are among the offerings at George's roadside market.



George Denn's two books, Hey By George! and Hey By George II, are tucked into plastic boxes and are also sold on the honor system.


© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


11 Responses to “Honesty goes a long ways at roadside market”

  1. Kristin Says:

    Gorgeous pictures! I wonder if George has done a cost-benefit analysis or if he just sees it as a benefit. I know I’d adhere to the honor system with such trust!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I thought George’s roadside market was quite photogenic too. I like to think that most who stop at his stand are good, honest people. And George must think so too or he wouldn’t use this honor pay system.

  2. Bernie (Rohlik) Bowman Says:

    Isn’t that awesome! I love those kind of roadside stands…beautiful pictures Audrey!

  3. George Denn Says:

    Thanks so much for this wonderful article! Many have been written over the years, but I think yours rates among the best! I hope you enjoyed being at my stand near my home. It all kind of evolved over the years after an answer to a prayer of mine. If you only knew all of the wonderful people I have met over the years because of Raising pumpkins! Lets just say the benefits are out of this world! thosands of familys have taken pictures here over the years! I’m not to worryed about people taking things as everything belongs to God anyway and there is no stealing from him, Sooner or latter we will all have to give an account! The system has redemptive qualities as well if someone has taken anything they can always come back and make it right no one has to know, it is between them and the Lord. Once again thanks for the article I stumbled acrossed it last night while looking for something on my books. The books also contain many storys about the Lord doing a work with those pumpkins. Thanks again I’m sure the Lord is pleased as well. George

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:


      My husband and I learned of your roadside stand from a couple in Kasota, who were setting up shocks, etc., in their yard. They told us we “just had to see” your place. I’m so glad they referred us.

      I’ve seen your signs while driving along Minnesota Highway 60 and always wondered about you.

      I appreciate your warm, Christian spirit and attitude of expecting the best in everyone.

  4. Mom-Me Says:

    George is that rare breed of Authentic Christian we sometimes happen across in Back Roads America. The beautiful pictures of his roadside stand speak highly of a man whom I am humbly honored to call my friend.

  5. Barb Stein Says:

    I have bought white popcorn and squash from George’s stands for the past 3 years and have given some of the popcorn as gifts to friends, only to be told later that it is the “best popcorn I have ever tasted” with no exceptions. I wanted to buy more popcorn today as I ran out last year, so I am wondering if George sells the popcorn anywhere else, or if I could arrange to pick some up from his home. I probably need another 6 quarts.

    • Barb, I wrote this post several years ago and am delighted you found my story and George’s stand. I can’t answer your question about popcorn. I’d suggest leaving a note with your contact number in the money box. I bet George would get back to you.

  6. Diane G. Says:

    I am starting a straw bale garden this year and need 12 – 2×3 ft bales (or bales close to that size). What would the cost be? Could delivery be arranged, I’m in Waterville. Thank you!!

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