If you have good produce people will find you.
These days it’s an algorithm that directs people to the good stuff, but they’re still getting there and those old visual clues that it’s sweet corn season or time to pick apples still work just as well, just ask the Heins and Trumps in Faribault.
They both run farms entering into fourth generations and they’re two of the better known spots to go for premier produce.
When the Heins started out selling sweet corn people first sensed delicious kernels were soon on their way to plates when the wagon appeared on the Heins' lot. The Trumps have so many people curious about their sweet-tasting apples they wait to turn the business line on so they don’t get distracted from the work that needs to be done to prepare for the busy months.
It seems like there’s still no better advertising than word of mouth, but having computer-aided technology certainly helps too.
The Heins see how a Google search helps them all the time during sweet corn season.
“A lady googled the best place to find good sweet corn and said this is where they took me,” said Jeanne Hein.
About 10 years ago Hy-Vee got word about the sumptuous sweet corn and asked to sell the Hein's Extra Sweet Corn. Now they haul to Hy-Vee every day and even then people will wait until the Hein’s corn gets stocked, said patriarch Pete Hein, who took over the sweet corn business from Howard Bode 22 years ago. The sweet corn will travel too. From truckers pulling over to those on a cross-country road trip, people from all over have stopped at the stand. Not only that, people from Alaska to New Mexico have requested the sweet corn shipped to them.
Of course, they can always get car-side service by heading out to the farm. The Hein family has quite the spot to shell out corn by the dozen with a circle driveway with two big shade trees to stand under while the load up cars. The driveway already had a great shade tree in the middle of the circle but Jeanne planted a maple tree on the east side of the driveway on a whim. Now the two trees have grown together to provide the perfect canopy for long summer days.
And they can be long days but the Heins get plenty of help from the family. Son David and his children log many hours together picking and packing corn. They’ll start picking at 6 or 7 in the morning and start selling after a short break. Grandsons Carson and Blake are there most days and granddaughter Carly comes down on weekends to lend a hand. Family friend Phillip Koslosky also helps out at the stand and picking
“I like doing it,” said Blake, 27, who started picking at 12 years old. “I like this part of farming, interacting with the people. We put a lot of hours in, seven days a week, 10 hours a day.”
So what makes Hein corn so special?
“I put sugar in the planters,” Jeanne joked.
The secret might just be consistency. Pete has used the same seed for 22 years and has kept proving friend Larry Bennett, who had the sweet corn operation before Bode, wrong.
“He always kidded us that we weren’t going last,” Pete said.
For the first year the Hein family kept a sign by the wagon “Formerly Bode’s” to help keep the previous customers. It seemed to work and the 18 acres the family works for sweet corn keep strong, even though the occasional crop rotation in the field gets people worried they won’t have corn in the summer.
But sweet corn lovers shouldn’t fret in Faribault since the five signs the Hein family puts out every year will guide you to sublime sweet corn.
Take a bite
A hop, a skip and a climb up the hill in another part of Faribault, Scott Trump is the third generation of Trumps lead Trumps Orchard.
Trumps Orchard has operated since 1954 and in that time become almost a rite of passage for Faribault youth to take a trip to the orchard with the annual Faribault preschool tour. Preschoolers from Faribault, Northfield, Owatonna, Medford and the surrounding areas travel to Trumps Orchard for an hour-long tour around the property during a two-week period each September.
Trumps Orchard opened this year in late August for people to pick University of Minnesota apple varieties like First Kiss, Sweet Tango, Honeycrisp and Haralson.
“The place is like a beehive four days a week Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday,” Trump said. “It’s a place to come with your family.”
That’s what it’s been for the Trumps, starting when Herman opened the business out of his garage with his wife Eileen. Scott’s father Todd and mother Joyce took over and these days it’s Scott and his wife Chrissy running things along with their children Brendan, Damon and Kaitlyn when they’ve got time. Brendan and Damon have gone off to college and Kaitlyn is entering her freshman year of high school.
“I’ve always been here,” Scott said. “I grew up in the orchard, whether it was mowing grass in the orchard or pruning trees in the wintertime. I went and did my own thing for a few years and then we ended up back here. It’s a great place to raise a family. I know I liked growing up in the orchard and I know my kids do also.”
The family runs four orchards, which total around 80 acres now. But it’s not all apples at Trumps Orchard. There are pumpkins, grapes, plums and even pears at the orchard.
“One of my grandpa’s big things was being diversified,” Scott said.
When the orchard opens it’s full-steam ahead when they’re open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays for people to check out fresh cider, caramel apples, pies and crisps.
For Scott, what makes the orchard fun is getting to see the improvements in how they farm.
“Being able to grow the business and farm things in a new way is interesting,” Scott said. “Constantly improving things and making mistakes, that’s all part of it , too.”
Some of those improvements have been building the warehouse in 1989 and planting smaller apple trees to increase growing capacity.
A majority of the produce that comes from Trumps Orchard finds it way to the grocery store but 35 percent of the produce still gets bought by customers at the orchard.
Just like with dining, the experience can be everything when finding produce and in Faribault, the experiences at Trumps Orchard and Hein's Extra Sweet Corn make the extra effort to find produce more satisfying.