Our stand wouldn't be able to run without the hard work of youth in the community with a passion for farming. We have a short summer season (often around 6 weeks), so students are the people who keep our bins full and our customers happy. When our kids Rachel and William were younger, they ran our stand every summer. But as kids do, they grew up. We knew we needed to reach out to the community and see who else would be interested in helping us run our summer business.
This year we were so lucky to have Ethan, Eli, and the Smiley boys - Parker and Cooper - take on stand operations. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, we were worried about how we were going to run the stand safely while still serving up a sweet experience for our customers. Anyone who has visited us before knows were a big fan of letting you pick your own corn, sharing a sample, and fostering a sense of community with fellow corn-lovers. This year our customers weren't able to select their own corn. But thanks to our stand attendants, the experience for our customers was a great and safe one. They were incredible with the new safety measures and went above and beyond to make sure everyone left with a smile on their face.
Our attendants made such an impression this year that the Saltwire Network asked to write an article about the youth-driven business we've been running for over 30 years.
"Even in an agricultural community, it isn’t necessarily common to find young people so passionate about farming.
A pair of young brothers from Canning are perhaps exceptional in this regard. 14-year-old Parker Smiley and 11-year-old Cooper Smiley are members of the corn stand attendants team at Newcombe’s Sweet Corn at 1111 Highway 341 in Upper Canard. The other team members include 14-year-old Ethan Brewster and 14-year-old Eli de Waal.
Newcombe’s Sweet Corn co-owner Andrea Palmer said several children, including their own, have worked at the corn stand over the years. She said the Smileys, Brewster and de Waal are like “little ambassadors” for the farm, greeting visitors and offering instructions on how to cook the corn for best results.
They prepare the roadside stand every day, manage sales and – this year – adhere to COVID-19 public health protocols. This support is important, as Palmer and her husband, co-owner Ian Newcombe, have little time to devote to the corn stand.
“They’re lifesavers for us,” Palmer said. “Ian and I both work full-time, we work for a large agricultural company here in the Valley, plus we have this farm that we own and manage as well.”
She said Parker is their main picker, going out to the fields to harvest corn before the stand opens in the mornings. Even though he’s only 14, he has four years’ experience working on the farm and a keen interest in agriculture. He discusses with Newcombe what needs to be done on a daily basis.
“He has kind of stepped into a bit of an ownership role with the stand for us,” Palmer said. “It’s wonderful to have a right-hand man.”
Read the full story here. Thank you Kirk Starratt and Saltwire for the fantastic article about our hardworking helpers!