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