A Roadside Tradition
Brian and Leslie Axdahl are famous for their sweet corn. Starting every year in mid to late July, folks from miles around make a sort of pilgrimage to Axdahl’s roadside vegetable stand on the outskirts of Stillwater, Minnesota for some of the sweetest, most tender “bi-color” corn they’ve ever tasted. Still warm from the field, the silky ears are bundled into sacks and gently piled into trunks and back seats for the hungry car ride home that’s usually finished off with a great big pot of boiling water and burgers on the grill.
The stand, located one mile north of Highway 36 off of County Road 15 (Manning Ave) in Stillwater, also offers:
* green beans,
* green peppers and more.
A Sweet Connection
This year, for corn lovers who can’t make the trip to the stand, the Axdahl’s sweet corn is available at:
* the Twin Cities’ St. Paul Farmer’s Market weekends late July through September and
* select area supermarkets
as part of the second-year Midwest Food Alliance (MWFA) program that connects area grocers with local growers. To belong to the MWFA, farmers must follow certain guidelines which incorporate sustainable farming practices.
The Axdahl’s, a Stillwater farming family since the 1970s, were invited to be a part of this program because they take a sustainable approach to growing their crops. That means they practice an earth-friendly farming approach and use a minimum of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides. Important to them is the care they take to protect the natural habitat of birds and other creatures with unplowed and undisturbed “buffer zones.” They are also recognized for their fair and respectful treatment of employees. “During our harvesting time which starts in July and can run through October, we hire up to 35 local people to help in the fields and at the stand,” says Leslie. “Many are high school and college-aged kids and it’s nice to be able offer them gainful employment.”
From what started as a five-acre plot of corn almost 40 years ago, today the Axdahl’s farm covers some 400 acres. “We want to continue to be in business by taking care of our land,” says Leslie. “It’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? If you take care of the land it takes care of you.” And according to the folks who make a steady stream to their farm stand, and now to their neighborhood supermarkets, the difference is something they can taste.