Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Meet Bill, the sweetcorn salesman August 21, 2013

Bill Edelback sells sweetcorn, a green pepper, three cucumbers and a zucchini to my husband, Randy.

Bill Edelbach sells fresh vegetables to my husband, Randy.

I TOTALLY UNDERSTAND why Bill Edelbach sold an entire pick-up full of sweetcorn and other farm fresh vegetables while parked along a busy street corner in Kenyon this past Sunday.

Cucumbers and peppers, three for $1.

Cucumbers and peppers, three for $1.

He’s quite the salesman, pointing me to the peppers and cucumbers and zucchini when my husband and I had stopped only for sweetcorn.

Even a few heads of cabbage for sale.

Even a few heads of cabbage for sale. Tomatoes are slow in ripening this year, Bill says.

For more than 50 years, Bill has vended veggies grown on his Kellogg area farm. You can see those years chiseled in lines across his forehead, around his eyes, through his cheekbones.

Years of work etched in Bill's face.

Years of work etched in Bill’s face.

Bill has the kind of weathered face that I love to photograph, a face that distinguishes him as a long-time farmer. One who loves the land and the food he grows. He’s a hard worker; you can see that in his thin frame, in his hands.

Gotta appreciate the handcrafted signage as much as Bill.

Gotta appreciate the handcrafted signage.

There’s another thing you should know about Bill.  Something like 30 years ago, he says, Tombstone Pizza folks were traveling around to small towns for a marketing campaign. They came upon Bill and his veggie vehicle parked in Cannon Falls, bought the whole truckload of sweetcorn, and moved him and his truck this way and that while photographing the scene.

Bagging our sweetcorn late Sunday afternoon.

Bagging our sweetcorn late Sunday afternoon.

That’s Bill’s claim to fame. Plus 50 years of selling his field fresh vegetables in small-town Minnesota.

For less than $5, we purchased half a dozen ears of sweetcorn, three cucumbers, a green pepper and a zucchini.

For less than $5, we purchased half a dozen ears of sweetcorn, three cucumbers, a green pepper and a zucchini.

In less than two hours, we were feasting on Bill's sweetcorn; garden fresh potatoes purchased last week from another roadside vendor; and smoked pork chops bought fresh at a local grocery store meat counter.

Two hours later we were feasting on Bill’s sweetcorn; garden fresh potatoes purchased last week from another roadside vendor; and smoked pork chops bought fresh at a local grocery store meat counter.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

15 Responses to “Meet Bill, the sweetcorn salesman”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I always love buying from guys like this! Our sweet guy hawks Harrington corn and he is a good salesman, too, and very personable. We get bags of corn that always hold way more than the bakers dozen he advertises (last bag had 18 ears) and this year it has been good . Last year it was a bit disappointing. Your dinner looks delightful.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Sounds like you’ve found a fantastic sweetcorn salesman, too. And, yes, you’re right about an extra ear or two often being tossed into the bag, although Bill didn’t do that for us. He was a personable fellow and I love his chiseled features.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    I know Bill…..at least, I’ve bought corn from him! He’s even set up his “stand” at Houston’s Hoedown event in year’s past!!! Great story!!

  3. Jackie Says:

    Always good to see folks doing what they love to do. Don’t think I’ve ever seen Bill but that last name is familiar, so I must have passed his stand a time or two. We have sweet corn and brats on the menu for tonight….cant wait 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Sweetcorn on the menu here tonight also and something more, maybe chicken and fresh potatoes, to fee the hungry teenager.

  4. Nothing better than fruits and veggies right from the farm and hours old! I just processed 3 lbs of green beans and picked up some zukes and bell peppers too. I am still waiting for my garden to start producing and it is sloooowww going. Happy Hump Day:)

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I agree that fresh veggies from the farm are the best. For lunch I just had a stir fry of Bill’s zucchini with my own cherry tomatoes and fresh basil and oregano added.

  5. Great photos and what a yummy looking meal at the end! We have a local farm who sets up a stand at the hardware store parking lot a half mile from our house every summer and we’ve gone there every year we’ve lived in this house (16). The sweet corn is to die for.

    My cherry tomatoes are coming in now, too! My granddaughter snarfed down half a dozen of them for lunch yesterday.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I love that tradition of the same farmers in the parking lot at the hardware store. Sounds like a photo op.

      Great that your granddaughter loves cherry tomatoes. If only they would keep through the winter.

  6. Yum! Nothing better than fresh veggies.


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