For years, “Charlie’s Fresh Sweet Corn” stand sold vegetables on the Fischbach family farm at the northeast corner of the intersection between Highway 169 and 93rd Avenue.
The farmhouses have been replaced by dirt and construction vehicles building a freeway interchange, but the corn stand will still open this year on the opposite side of the highway.
The stand’s new location is 8916 93rd Ave. N., Brooklyn Park, between the highway and St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.
Charlie Fischbach expects to open the stand at the end of July and have fresh corn available for 60 days, as usual. But he said that’s about the only thing remaining the same for his family business.
“We had to start from the ground up,” his wife, Juli Fischbach, said. “It’s been really stressful.”
“The really tough thing is we don’t have any water, and we don’t have electricity,” Charlie Fischbach said.
The family has been borrowing water from a neighbor to use at the stand, Juli Fischbach said. For electricity, they expected to buy a generator or pay to run a power line to the property.
The Fischbachs also had to widen part of the driveway so cars could access the stand more easily.
Despite all the extra work and investment, Charlie Fischbach worries the stand won’t see as much business this year because it’s less visible and much less accessible than in the past, thanks to the construction that has completely closed 93rd Avenue at 169.
This location wasn’t his first choice.
The Fischbachs wanted to sell produce from a stand on the east side of 169, but they said Brooklyn Park city code would have made that too difficult. According to city ordinance, a vendor can sell produce on the land where it was grown. But if produce is sold at another location in the city, the vendor is considered a retailer and must meet all applicable standards.
“We decided it wasn’t worth the fight,” Juli Fischbach said.
But they didn’t want to sell at the farmers market – they wanted their own stand. So the Fischbachs decided to set up their stand on a piece of rented property where some of the crop was grown. It’s also adjacent to the remaining 6 acres of the family farm. After three land seizures by eminent domain, that’s all that’s left of the 80-acres once belonging to Charlie Fischbach’s 93-year-old mother, Nellie. She was forced off the farm last winter and moved to another home in Brooklyn Park.
The Fischbachs hope to be reimbursed for the extra costs incurred because of moving the stand, but they’re not yet sure what the cost will be. And they don’t know what the outcome of the condemnation process by which the city seized the land will be.
The family refused the city’s purchase offer, so a panel of commissioners will determine just compensation after a hearing planned for December.
Representatives from the city had no comment due to the pending legal action.
In the meantime, Charlie says he doesn’t want to give up the family tradition of farming.
“It’s kind of in your blood,” he said. “You just love the smell of the dirt in the spring when you’re planting. … My grandpa did it. My dad did it.”
Charlie’s Fresh Sweet Corn stand will be open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week and will offer corn, tomatoes and cucumbers.