All’s right in the world – Chapman’s Vegetable Stand open for business
July 24, 2008
It’s been an odd year for Marcus Chapman.
In 14 years of operating Chapman’s Vegetable Stand on Weld County Road 17 north of Eastman Park Drive in Windsor, Chapman has never had so many issues to contend with.
Years of little water, years of late freezes, years of rabbits have all contributed to the headaches of farming.
But the tornado that hit Windsor on May 22 brought on a whole new challenge.
“I lost about 400 tomato plants and all my melons,” Chapman, 49, said. “The hail destroyed all my irrigation, so I had to replace everything.”
Because of that, most everything is a bit delayed. Nonetheless, Chapman moves on. For the 14th season, Chapman is open again, selling everything from eggplant to his famous corn.
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“It did thin out my beets nicely,” he said with a laugh. “I guess that’s some sort of silver lining to the storm. I have the best beets I’ve ever had.”
Chapman also worried this year would be further hindered by the construction on Weld 17. A big flashing “road-closed” sign that greets motorists as they cross south over Eastman Park Drive gives the impression there is no entrance to the popular stand.
But that, too, was taken care of with “Veggie Stand Open” now flashing along with the closure, something Chapman is not sure how it happened.
He inquired with the town about adding it, but was told it would be too expensive. Even when he offered to pay for it, the answer was, “No.” But Tuesday, there it was.
“I don’t know what changed their minds,” he said.
Chapman estimates he’s had about 30 cars a day turn in to his property for the past two weeks, hoping for an opening. And it didn’t take long for word to spread when that happened. Within minutes of turning on the open sign, people were lining up at the corn table ” about the only crop of vegetables on time this year.
Although Chapman drives to Fort Lupton every morning to fresh pick the corn himself, it’s his brother-in-law, Andy Anders of Fort Lupton who has always grown the corn.
“It’s been odd this year,” Chapman said. “First, I lost 100 tomato plants after Mother’s Day to a late frost. Then, the tornado hit. The hail compacted the soil. It beat it down so hard. And I’ve had the usual battle with bugs and rabbits.”
Because of the storm, however, Chapman said he should have 32 different varieties of tomatoes this year, as he scrambled to find replacement plants after the tornado and took what he could find.
One thing that hasn’t changed is his price for corn. Still at $4 per dozen, which in Chapman’s world is 13 ears, Chapman hopes he can keep the price the same all season. But with the cost of gas, he may need to rethink that idea as the summer goes on.
“I do have to make some adjustments,” he said. “It’s costing me double to drive to pick the corn, and fertilizer is twice as expensive as it was last year.”
The idea of higher prices didn’t seem to bother those already picking out their vegetables.
“You’re too low,” one man said.
And it didn’t stop Steve Kannenberg from getting a dozen on his way home to Fort Collins.
“I used to live here,” Kannenberg said as he picked through the ears of sweet corn. “I’m still a member at Pelican Lakes, so I stop in when I’m in town. It’s great.”