FROM 7 am – 6 pm DAILY, Louise tends a tiny produce stand along a paved road in the unincorporated northwestern Steele County settlement of Meriden.
That’s where I met her on a recent mid-October Sunday afternoon—outside a shed the size of an outhouse. Louise lives right next door to Teb’s Food Stand, a seasonal business owned by her friend, Teborah Kath. Teb, she noted, was likely, in that moment, busy canning vegetables at her nearby country home.
Garden-fresh and canned vegetables define the bulk of inventory tucked inside this hand-built shed constructed of salvaged wood, galvanized metal and a modern front door.
Here quart and pint jars edge shelves. Green beans pack tightly inside jars labeled Dilly Beans. Rich red tomato sauce colors Teb’s salsa. Oranges and reds and yellows mix inside jars of Cherry Tomato Mix and Peppers, splashing vibrant autumn hues. For pickle lovers, Teb crafts dill and bread & butter pickles.
She also sells baked goods—I spotted a singular package of bread. Next to the face masks, accessories and scrubbies.
Seasonal fresh produce is sold here, too, and artfully staged. Piles of assorted squash fill metal tubs. Pumpkins hug a corner near the door. Decorative corn and gourds rest on shelves. And outside more pumpkins and a collection of mum plants define this as a seasonal mini marketplace.
Chatting with Louise, who stepped aside when I started taking photos, proved a delight. Considering her 11-hour days at this less-than-busy location, I asked how she passes the time. Reading? She’s not much of a reader, she said, referencing her farm upbringing and the need to stay physically active. Sometimes she leaves temporarily to do chores at home—like mowing her lawn. Or sometimes she simply has other things going on that take her away from the roadside stand.
A handwritten sign next to a locked honor system box directs customers to go next door or call Louise with questions. But don’t count on her having change. She doesn’t. I purchased two squash for $4, almost $5.
In addition to this small town produce stand, Teb also sells her garden and craft and baked goods at the Owatonna Farmers’ Market. Sales are good, even at the remote Meriden location, Louise noted.
Meriden is one of those rural places perhaps unknown to many. Driving into town, I noticed a former creamery, the brick building in remarkable condition.
But it is the cluster of mammoth grain bins which landmark Meriden. Homes line the road past the elevator to a dead end, an unwelcome warning sign marking the end of the street.
Back at Teb’s Food Stand, conversation halted when a train car and locomotive rolled into town, horn blaring. Soon it reversed course, crossing the tracks again, horn blaring.
By then I’d gathered enough photos and information to craft a story. To write about Lousie and Teb and this tiny produce stand edging a paved road next to a harvested bean field in Meriden, Minnesota.
NOTE: Teb’s Food Stand will close soon for the season, if it’s not already closed.
© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling