By Loren Shaum
Chuck and Tami Mohler started Sweet Corn Charlie Produce in 1986 to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to the masses from their family farm just east of Millersburg. The main focus was, and remains, a unique hybrid sweet corn. Much of their innovative growing techniques were learned in Israel, which they continue to visit annually. These techniques have allowed them to provide produce over an extended season. Their 120 acres of farm-raised produce is available much earlier than the normal Lake Country season usually allows, and the season extends well into October.
This year, they dodged a bullet when temps at the farm dipped to 25 degrees in early May. Although ice formed on a farm pond, they had covered early plantings with plastic tunnels that protected them from the heavy frost. As a result, they are on schedule to have tomatoes by mid-June and sweet corn by the end of June.
Their gourmet, bi-color sweet corn is Sweet Corn Charlie’s most well-known product, and when ready, it’s hand-picked by workers early each morning and shipped by truck and trailer to their various open-air market locations. Each market bags the bulk ears into lots of a half-dozen or a dozen, but some locations allow you to buy by the ear.
Besides the market at the farm, Sweet Corn Charlie’s will open six additional stores. Warsaw is one of the larger stores, but they will also have their trademark yellow tents pitched in Granger, Middlebury, Dunlap, Goshen and Syracuse.
Already available at the farm store are gargantuan kohlrabi (These beasts are the size of a soccer ball!), spring asparagus, lettuce and rhubarb. Soon, strawberries will be available from a producer in Michigan and the remote markets will open, offering a wide variety of fresh-picked, farm-grown vegetables and melons. Other produce that will be available this year includes: blueberries, red beets, pickles, peppers, green beans, eggplant, melons, snap peas, cucumbers, kohlrabi, green onions, sweet onions, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuces, sweet corn and squash. I particularly like their new potatoes and pick out the smallest. These little nuggets make a great potato salad!
The markets also offer Sweet Corn Charlie’s brand of all-natural preserves, salsas and honey.
Always looking to innovate, Chuck continues to strive for the best growing solutions possible. This year, the farm is testing a new fertilizer combination that should improve output.
Over the years, Sweet Corn Charlie produce has become so popular that the local newspapers announce their market openings, and the Mohler’s were awarded the 2013 Family Farm of the Year in Elkhart County. Tami states: “We are looking forward to providing food for our customers!”
The farm currently employs 10 or so, but when the markets open, they will ramp up to around 60 employees. So, they need workers. You can apply at [email protected] or call the farm at (574) 642-3466.
The first corn always draws a huge crowd. Last year, the Syracuse store had more than 20 cars in the lot on the first corn day. Once it arrives, we generally have corn in some form, at least once a day. Either that, or we freeze it. Having that delightful sweet corn available year-round is a real treat.
Instead of buying produce at an enclosed grocery store where you have to follow specific traffic patterns, shop at one of Sweet Corn Charlie’s open-air markets stores where you know where the food comes from. Always farm-fresh, you won’t ever be disappointed!
Sweet Corn Charlie’s Farm is at 11003 CR 42, Millersburg. Until the open-air markets open, check out the farm market.