Szalay’s Sweet Corn Farm was days away from opening for the season and there was a palpable hum at the farm market, with a new roof being installed, a UPS semi delivering new customized shopping carts and workers busy getting the market ready for business.
The corn probably won’t be “knee-high by the Fourth of July,” but sweet corn from Szalay’s fields in southern Ohio should be arriving here by mid-July. In the meantime, there will be plenty of fresh produce and other farm products from nearby and some not so nearby.
The weather has definitely put a damper on the family business, Paula Szalay said. She estimates that the wet spring and subsequent delays and losses in planting the corn crop will cost the farm 25 percent of its income this year.
“We are about two weeks behind schedule, as far as the corn getting ready,” Szalay said. “We put out eight pumps in the fields. You know we had two months of solid rain, so we had the pumps out there, and we each took a night, stayed up all night to keep the pumps going, get all that rainwater off our fields so that the corn would grow.
“The corn really appreciated it, and it’s gonna come through, at least the majority of it will.
“The first two weeks are really crucial for farmers because everybody’s excited and … it’s not gonna be here. That’s a big hit. Especially when you have the three families working together.”
While the wet spring has taken its toll, the business shows no signs of going away.
“We’re excited,” Szalay said. “Opening day is Friday and we’ve got the huts all out there ready, we’ve got the propane tanks filled up, we’ve got the inside clean as a whistle.” So clean that last year Szalay’s earned United States Department of Agriculture certification.
“I literally cleaned some of it with a toothbrush,” Szalay said.
For foods not locally available, Szalay’s goes to market at the Northern Ohio Food Terminal. “We’ve got other local farmers coming in, bringing us things for this weekend.”
Paula Szalay expects to have fresh corn available sometime in mid-July. “We have 40 acres in southern Ohio. It’s a little behind (schedule) but not like we are here.”
This is the 80th anniversary of Szalay’s family farm. The grandfather of Paula’s husband, John, started it all.
“We’re really excited about that too,” Szalay said. “We’re starting a new website; we’ve never had one. You know, farmers are kind of down to earth, we’re not real techie.” The website is expected to go live next week. Szalay’s plans to stage a competition at the website to find the best stories or photos of memories from the farm over the years. “It should be fun,” Szalay said.
Working on a farm with extended family means a lot of long hours and wearing a lot of hats. “You have to be able to do everything on a family farm,” Szalay said. “It’s nice working together with your family. We get along really well; some days are better than others.”
The new season will start off with a new roof overhead – a shiny metal roof to replace the one installed almost 20 years ago. “So it should look nice when you’re driving down the street, see the white barn with the nice, shiny red roof,” Szalay said. Several structures at Riverview and Bolanz roads will be getting the metal roof treatment, except for the vintage 1840 red barn. It will keep its 1840 vintage look.
Do you have a favorite memory at Szalay's Sweet Corn Farm? Tell us in the comments below!