How sweet it is: Eaton’s Leffler family revives sweet corn stand for kids’ summer project
Where to find it
Buy the Leffler’s sweet corn at the roadside stand, just west of Eaton on Weld County Road 74, ½ mile east of WCR 33. The corn can also be found at Heritage Market, 180 Elm Ave., Eaton, Beaver’s Market, 1100 W. Mountain Ave., Fort Collins, and at the Greeley Farmer’s Market, which is at the Train Depot, 902 7th Ave.
Andrew and Luke Leffler recall hooking up a wagon to an old tractor to go out and pick corn when they were kids. Once they picked the corn, the two brothers, along with their sisters, Natalie and Sarah, piled it on a table under a small tent outside their parents’ house on Weld County Road 74 west of Eaton., Colo.
“It was almost like selling lemonade,” Luke said, with a laugh.
Longtime Weld residents may remember that the stand ran mostly on the honor system: They put an envelope on the table with the price of a dozen ears scribbled on it.
That was in the mid-’90s, but it still works the same today for their revived roadside stand. The table is essentially in their driveway now, so they keep a closer watch, but they still rely on the honor system.
Luke and Andrew brought their childhood business back last year to collect customers before their kids grow old enough to take over and manage the stand. “It was great for us — a great way to keep busy,” Andrew said.
The brothers planted about 10 acres of sweet corn this year, and their boys have been out to help them with it. Their daughters are still too young, but will eventually join the family business. They’ve already seen a lot of customers returning from their childhood to pick up some sweet corn.
Luke said the corn stand taught them the how to save money, the importance of customer relationships and how to maintain inventory. There were other lessons too.
“The basic principles of what we do now I learned at the corn stand,” Luke said.
They also grow sugar beets, hay, silage corn and other crops with their dad and longtime Weld County farmer, Russ.
“That aspect of it is a little slower in August, so that gives us some time to do the sweet corn,” Andrew said.
The sweet corn selling season normally lasts about six weeks to two months.
Both Andrew and Luke hope to give the same thing their parents gave them to their own kids.
“I just hope that they learn the value of hard work and responsibility — the basics of a summer job,” Luke said.
Right before lunch on Monday, the Leffler brothers were out in one of the sweet corn fields, and their two boys, Camden, 2, and Colton, 4, were running between the stalks, matching toy tractors in hand.
The fresh sweet corn is one of Camden’s favorite snacks — it’s even sweeter when it’s raw, Luke said. Though what Camden might like more than the sweet corn is when his dad throws the ear — bite marks and all — back into the field for the dog, Izzy, to run after. Once she tracks it down, all four boys can hear her gnawing on Camden’s leftovers somewhere in the field.
Colton can pull an ear off the stalks, and he knows where they sell it. He’s comfortable chatting with just about anyone. He doesn’t prefer to shuck the corn, though, and he really doesn’t like when there are leftover silky hairs on his field snacks.
When they’re done in the field, the crew heads back to dump out their yield on the table for their customers.
In the half hour they were out harvesting, the table at the stand had been picked clean. The Lefflers like to keep it fresh for the customers, so they go out to pick several times each day.
Even years after their childhood roadside stand, the Lefflers’ two sisters are still involved. They help by selling at farmers markets and to local stores. The family sells their corn to Heritage Market in Eaton as well as Beavers Market in Fort Collins. Then they hit up the Greeley Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings. They also sell to some Denver restaurants and Greeley-Evans School District 6 in Greeley.
But the roadside stand still attracts a lot of drive-by customers.
Jeff Bower of Laporte was driving past on Monday when he saw the stand and pulled over. He said he waits for corn season all year.
“When you get fresh corn it’s always a good time of year,” Bower said. “I eat it every night when it’s in season. It’s only that small window of time you have to get it fresh like this.” ❖
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