Home Life

Sweet Corn in Big Grove

Putting up sweet corn.

My spouse and I processed local sweet corn for freezing last night. It is a relic from a past when food preservation played a bigger role in home life. We have stories about our lives with sweet corn to tell each other. A simple truth is we can buy big bags of frozen, organic cut corn from the wholesale club for less cost. If local corn is good, the taste of summer on a cob, it is worth the extra effort to buy local and put it up.

We have frozen corn leftover from last season, so our needs this year aren’t that much. Our main supplier went out of business and we’ve been hard-pressed to find a replacement. That is, we haven’t found outstanding sweet corn this year. Weather conditions have been a problem, according to our local ABC affiliate:

ELY, Iowa (KCRG) – Over thirty years as a farmer, Butch Wieneke knows what high quality sweet corn looks, and feels like. That’s why selling anything other than the best, is not an option for him and his family.

Last Thursday, they made the tough decision to stop selling.

“It just dried up. The ears weren’t filling out and I wasn’t going to sell sub-par corn. It’s just…I’m not going to do that. I don’t care what price it is,” said Wieneke.

The quality of sweet corn can change very quickly, and because of the lack of rain Eastern Iowa saw last week, the personal and public orders stopped.

Now, they’re waiting and watching to see how the crops develop.

Libbie Randall, KCRG-TV9, Aug. 2, 2022.

When we moved to Big Grove, I decided quickly to outsource sweet corn growing, in the mid-1990s. After a year or two, I found corn takes too much space and the results were not as good as what farmers produce. Because of today’s shortage, I’m considering a patch of sweet corn in next year’s garden. We’re not ready to give up on the annual family tradition and if I can produce a couple of bushels, that would best serve our culture.

While August grinds into its second week with hot, humid temperatures and plenty of rain, I’m ready to return to daily writing. I’m thankful for the break, yet there are important happenings not being covered by traditional media. When I write such stories, people find my posts and view them. I don’t have an editorial calendar yet, although as something new, I blocked out time today to write one.

The rest of the year is expected to be like drinking from a fire hose as far as news goes. I may as well dust off the keyboard and dig in now that sweet corn is put up.

Kitchen Garden

Iowa Sweet Corn

Young men bagging freshly-picked sweet corn at Rebal’s Sweet Corn farm stand.

The decision to buy sweetcorn and not grow it was easy. It takes a lot of garden space and my results haven’t been as consistent as one can buy at a farm stand. The farm stand where we’ve been buying sweet corn is closing after this season.

This will be our last year of selling sweet corn. Yes, the rumors are correct. After 35 years of business, we’re decided to bring it to an end. We’ve loved meeting all of you, and hopefully have provided the best sweet we possibly could. But it’s time for us to make a few changes in life. We’ve appreciated your business over the years, and all the wonderful comments you’ve given us. Wow! This is a hard post to write! Thank you all so much for your business, and we hope to see you one last time before the season ends and Rebal’s Sweet Corn comes to a final close.

Rebal’s Sweet Corn Facebook page.

They had corn on Friday so I bought ten dozen ears to freeze and eat fresh on the cob, on pizzas, and in leek and potato soup. Next year I’ll have to find a new grower but I don’t see re-visiting my decision to outsource this crop.

Leveraging the work of others is an important part of managing a kitchen garden. Rebal’s Sweet Corn fits into my local food paradigm of knowing the face of the farmer. We will miss them when they move on.