TRAVEL MY NATIVE RURAL southwestern Minnesota as I did several days ago, and you will see vast fields of corn stretching across the landscape. Here you will find some of Minnesota’s richest and most fertile soil. Here corn and soybeans dominate.
In a particularly challenging growing season of late spring planting followed now by too much rain, farmers hope still for a bountiful harvest. Even as they view fields resembling lakes. But to be a farmer is to hold optimism.
Everything in these small communities centers on a farming economy. In years of good yields, businesses benefit. In years of low yields and low prices, small towns suffer. It is the cyclical nature of farm life in rural America.
There’s much to appreciate about this rural region that roots me and grew me into a writer and photographer. Folks value the land and embrace a strong sense of community and of place.
In Sleepy Eye to the west of New Ulm, for example, the community celebrates Buttered Corn Days in August. This small town is home to a Del Monte Food’s corn and pea processing plant. We’re talking sweet corn here, not field corn.
Sweet corn season has just begun in Minnesota with roadside vendors pulling into parking lots and alongside roadways to sell fresh sweet corn from the backs of pick-up trucks. Farm to table at its most basic.
In the small town of Belview even farther to the west in my home county of Redwood, a single stalk of DeKalb field corn stands in a five-gallon bucket inside Parkview Home where my mom lives. I laughed when I saw the corn stalk with the notation of planted on May 13. Back in the day, corn growth was measured by “knee high by the Fourth of July.” Corn, in a typical year, now far surpasses that height by July 4. Not this year.
I can only imagine how many conversations that single corn stalk prompted at Parkview where most residents grew up on and/or operated farms. It’s details like this which define the rural character of a place and its people.
© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Yum! Sweet corn fresh from the garden or road side stand then cooked and served hot with tons of butter. Makes my mouth water. I sure miss it!
I have yet to taste my first ear this summer. Any corn sold at roadside stands now likely came from outside Minnesota as our crops are quite behind this year.
Thanks for the visit to SW Minnesota. Those iconic corn and soybean vistas with the blue skies and puffy clouds bring back such good memories. Loved the cornstalk growing in a pail at the senior care facility.
Those towering clouds make for some powerful images as they really show the immensity of the prairie sky. The vastness of southwestern Minnesota, in land and sky, impresses me every single time I return to the my home region.
I, too, love the cornstalk in the bucket. What a great idea.
The corn certainly has got a slow start this year hasn’t it. I noticed in some fields up north that it did not meet the standard “knee high by the 4th of July”. Hopefully this weather will settle down soon….more rain predicted for today in Rochester.
Typically corn would be shoulder high by now as that knee high by the Fourth standard has long fallen. But this year crops are way behind with the late planting and now too much rain flooding out and destroying crops.
That stalk of corn was a topic of discussion I am sure! The flooding has just been unreal this year. Thank you to the farmers that put food on my table 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy
More rain predicted for Minnesota today. We were at Morehouse Park in Owatonna on Sunday and the Straight River was wild and powerful. No way should anyone canoe, kayak or otherwise engage in recreational activities on Minnesota rivers right now. Way too dangerous.
Stay out of the water is GREAT ADVICE! Currents, high water, who knows what has been swept into that can injury or make a person sick.
A man drowned this past weekend while tubing on a Minnesota river. And numerous people have fallen ill from something related to another Minnesota body of water.
My Mom had great care at the Belview Nursing Home.
Great place with a loving and caring staff. Like family. Like home.
I love the cornstalk growing in the pail. What a clever idea for the nursing home to display in “corn country”.
I thought it truly novel and fitting for farm country.
Love the bucket with a corn stalk. Probably the first corn planted this year. Too many bare fields this year.
It’s great, isn’t it? Yes, too much farmland unplanted and/or flooded.
It’s been an awful year for farmers, for sure. And the economy is beginning to show it.
I’m sure you see that in your ag-strong community of Worthington.