Deerings Market along the Mad River made local history on June 20.
For the first time, the Deering family had their own homegrown sweet corn for sale on the first day of summer. Normally we don’t see it until around July 4.
I found that alone pretty cool, until Sue Deering and her son, Joe, told me the whole story. Now I’m amazed.
The Deering family has been raising and selling vegetables since the 1930s. They sold produce in the Arcade in downtown Dayton, until rent hit $500 a month. That’s when the family went shopping for good land and ended up at the corner of Lower Valley Pike and North Hampton Road.
The first generation of Deerings planted vegetables in the rich soil of the Mad River plain, and put up a farm market in 1942.
Bill and Sue Deering were the second generation to farm these fields.
Last week, standing under black-and-white photos of the Deering produce stand at the Arcade, Sue Deering talked to me about those early days.
“Bill’s mom (Betty) told me, ‘I want you to make sure Bill keeps this place going,’ ” said Sue. She told her that they would do their best.
For decades Bill and Sue Deering worked that produce farm with their three sons — David, Joe and Dan. In 1972 they put in an irrigation system, which got them through the dry years.
According to Joe Deering, the water coming out of the two wells is always 58 degrees and clear. Evidently the vegetables love it.
More than 50 percent of what is sold in the store is grown on the adjacent land. Joe explained that in addition to corn, they raise cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon and cabbage, which he hopes will be made into coleslaw at the Mel O Dee Restaurant.
One of the cool things about the stand is that it has an old fashioned Honor Box. Every day after the stand closes the flat bed trailer of corn is left out for late shoppers, who are asked to please put their money in a reinforced locked box. And they do.
“It works,” said Joe Deering, who explained that they have also found IOUs written on scraps of paper, and scratched lottery tickets as payment. Those who promise to pay always come back later to settle up.
Last October when Bill Deering passed away, the family had a decision to make. Could the raising of vegetables continue?
According to Sue Deering, the family decided to see how it went this year.
Then there was, as she describes it, no winter, and a heat wave in March.
The oldest son, David, decided to take a risk and plant corn then. He wasn’t pleased with the straightness of his rows, according to Sue, but they celebrated when the corn came up.
“He told me the Honey Select came through and I told him his Daddy would be so proud of us,” said Sue.
As Joe told me, they have planted a batch of corn every 10 days since March. The first batch was hand picked on the first day of summer.
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