That’s one of my most asked questions at the market. I always reply, “this morning at 2 am!” It’s one thing to say that, but today I had the opportunity to see it with my own eyes. My alarm went off at 2:12. Yes, I mean 2:12 in the morning. As a college student, having an 8 a.m. class is considered “early” for me-so this put waking up early into perspective. I got into the car and headed to the farm. The world was pretty quiet on my way there, but when I pulled in at 3 in the morning, things were already moving. Trucks were pulling out, and everything was ready to go for another great day at Witten Farm. Scott Witten (co-owner of Witten Farm) greeted me and we drove to the cornfield bright and early.
“But why 2 in the morning?”, I asked Scott. “Well, we pick so early to beat the heat, but we also pick all the corn so we can get them back to the farm in time to send it to all the markets”, he said. We have twenty-two markets across Ohio and West Virginia-so picking enough corn for all those locations and getting them distributed by opening at 8:30 is an extraordinary feat. I always knew we valued our customers-but the fact that we have fresh corn readily available and on the truck seven days a week made me realize how much we go above and beyond so our customers can have fresh corn on a daily basis. After a short truck ride, we arrived at the place where the magic happens-the cornfield.
I don’t know what I was expecting when I arrived at the cornfield. I had a “u-pick” idea in my head-the sun coming up while people leisurely picked corn. However, when we met Tom Witten (co-owner of Witten Farm) at the corn field, things were moving-and they were moving fast. I saw someone pick corn, and before I knew it, they quickly put our signature bag on the truck to go back to the farm. It was cold. It was muddy. It was hard work. But do you want to know the thing that stuck with me the most? Despite all the hard work, I saw a lot of smiles. I heard a lot of laughter. This morning, I witnessed a whole new level of teamwork and companionship. What I witnessed was a genuine bond around picking corn.
I am fascinated by our corn-our signature product-but I am also on a mission to show the world why Witten’s corn is so special. When we were in the truck, I had the opportunity to talk to Tom about all things corn. We talked about everything from the “knee high by the Fourth of July” saying (apparently, that is a myth) to insight on what makes our corn so sweet. Tom said, “On day one, the sugar content of the corn is at its peak”. This is why we always sell fresh corn-it puts the “sweet” in sweet corn. When we pick early, it means that you have the opportunity to have the best corn imaginable.
After witnessing the work, sweat, and above all, love that goes into planning for, growing and harvesting the corn, I think I have the secret ingredient that makes Witten’s outstanding in our field (pun fully intended). At Witten’s, we work hard so that our customers – yes, you reading this right now!-can have the best, sweetest product. Our corn is picked by hand, the old fashioned way, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
After a pretty full day, I stopped at our Vienna market in the evening to pick up corn for my family. I looked at the corn with a fresh perspective, knowing that it was the same corn that was picked at 3 the same morning.