At 10 am the gate opens and customers begin their semi-annual trek for what has been called, “the sweetest gold on earth,” Frazier’s sweet corn.
David Frazier, and his wonderful wife, Sharon, own a 25-acre farm several blocks north of Jefferson and East Avenue in Brooksville.
Twice each year they harvest their crops, and people flock to the quaint locale to get their fresh local produce, including the best sweet corn I have ever tasted!
In fact, their website says, “Frazier Farms is a family-owned farm that specializes in growing the BEST sweet corn.” I would not argue that statement.
David is a Brooksville resident, having attended Hernando High School when Tom Varn was the coach. His family had a half-acre hobby garden in 1974, about an eighth of a mile east of the current Frazier Farms location. They were successful and regularly grew more than the family could eat. Coach Varn lived nearby and began sharing their bounty with the teachers. Requests kept coming for more of that delicious, fresh Frazier produce.
David’s father, Walter, began farming the current location in the early 1980s, specializing in sweet corn. Walter taught David how to farm, and they ran the whole place with a single tractor. He had a small stand with a dirt floor in the center of the current store. David and Sharon expanded the stand, adding a large cooler and laying a cement floor. The result is a real nice outdoor “store” featuring local produce, jams and jellies, and loads of sweet corn sorted in large, color-coded, plastic buckets.
David’s brother, Richard, also farmed sweet corn in a field off north US41, but several years ago, Richard gave farming up. “It’s just a hard way to make a living,” David explained.
“During the months before and during harvest, I am up at 6am turning on irrigation for different parts of the fields as needed. I begin harvesting the corn that is ready – enough to fill two wagons,” David shares, “My workers come in and help with the harvesting and begin sorting the #2s from the #1s. Machinery needs to be repaired, gassed up and moved around. Light fertilizing goes on in the evening hours. I just don’t get much sleep.”
We are surrounded by baskets of #2s. Number twos are either too big or have some ‘deformity,’ such as a second ear growing from the same cob. The kernels might not be completely developed on the top of the cob, but they’re good for creamed corn. Basically, anything less than perfect is a #2. All of the number 1s have been sold today. David will re-sort through the number 2s to cull those that don’t make the grade.
Then there are the small ears. Those are just not as big as the #1s. Small ears have less corn, so they cost less. This spring, a number 1 large ear is 60 cents. That is more than the supermarket charges, but it is what the Frazier’s need to make a living this way, and their customers are happy to pay premium prices for a premium product. In fact, most days, buyers are lined up down Manecke Road when the gate opens.
Although the property is 25 acres, David Frazier irrigates, plants and harvests several varieties on only 15 of those acres. “It is all I can manage.” He plans his plantings diligently each year so that the prime corn is available throughout the season.
Up comes the Frazier’s rat terrier, “Corn Dog,” who is asking for an ear. David scoops him up, offering him a short, golden bar of maize. You can see the bond between this happy farm dog and the family who has loved him for 13 plus years.
The Fraziers have 7 tractors to run this operation. It could be done with less, but it takes a lot of time and skill to change implements from tractors, so David keeps them hooked up.
Two of the tractors are in the far barn, “High boys for spraying,” he explains,” I can drive over the entire field in those tractors, no matter what height the corn has grown to.” I inquire about organic methods and he continues, “We are not certified organic, but we work hard to use the least amount of pesticide necessary. The dew can be used as a guard for each plant, limiting the need for additional protection.”
Sharon walks over and joins us after waiting on several customers. “We have many random inspections by the Florida Agricultural Officer. They take soil samples and we never know when they will visit. They have never found chemicals in our dirt,” she proudly shares.
The Fraziers have four children between them and seven grandchildren. A sign, “Grandchildren at Play,” greets visitors. Their youngest child has returned this year from six years of active duty in the Air Force. Unfortunately, none of their children want to work here. “I have hope that my grandchildren will want to join us on the family farm, but there is no way to predict what will happen.”
I pick my dozen ears of corn from the red bins (#1 Large Ears), get a nice tomato and Florida sweet onion. Sharon checks me out and reminds me that the Fraziers look at each customer as a blessing to them. “You could choose to buy your produce anywhere, but you chose here and we are grateful for every person who comes through our gate.”
Two teens are sorting corn from one of the wagons. One is eating raw corn that doesn’t make the grade. “It’s so good it doesn’t need cooking,” he enthuses while grinning ear to ear. The other young man is diligently working through the bounty.
In 1992, Walter Frazier retired from farming. David took on the project of restoring his dad’s John Deere tractor, rebuilding the motor and repainting the entire machine. It is a beautiful tribute to a man he obviously admires and respects. Today, that John Deere is right out front of the store for all of us to admire.
Frazier’s Farm is open Monday through Friday from 10 am – 5pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. They are closed Sundays. The farm is located at 20175 Manecke Road, Brooksville, FL 34601. The phone number is 352-232-2802. To be kept up to date on their opening and closing dates, it is recommended that you check their Facebook page or sign up for their email list. They open for the Spring harvest Saturday, May 13 and the season should run through June. Then Fall season runs October-November.
Oh, and how good is their corn?
“People come from all over the State of Florida to buy our corn. In fact, some people even schedule their vacations around our harvest season,” David boasts.