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Dorset Corner produce stand thrives

Erik Thorson shows off some of his strawberries. Over the weekend, berries were selling faster than Thorson could keep the tables stocked. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

A liquor store parking lot might be an unlikely spot for a thriving fruit and vegetable stand, but Dorset Corners Liquors is the exception.

The location on Highway 34 east of Park Rapids has proven a bonanza for Thorson's Farm Market. The farm, located between Staples and Browerville, has been in the liquor store parking lot for "five or six years, I can't remember," said Erik Thorson.

He usually sets up Tuesdays and Saturdays but brought produce over July 3 to catch the crowds. It was a good business decision.

Connie Carmichael stepped out of her car and made a beeline for the produce stand.

"Oooohhh, I can smell the berries," she said 25 feet away. "Can't you just smell the strawberries?" she asked to no one in particular.

She grabbed two pints. "Oooohhhh, you have baby peas!" she exclaimed. "There's nothing better than new potatoes and creamed baby peas. My mother used to make them all the time."

Carmichael said the peas might not make it into the hot dish, however.

"We love to just sit around the eat them raw," she said.

To numerous inquiries, Thorson said, "The corn is just getting tassels," explaining the pending arrival of sweet corn.

"Last year his corn was to die for," said one customer.

The family farm produces about 40 different varieties of fruits and vegetables throughout the summer, Thorson said.

Friday, he brought a dozen different plants in season: onions, peas, strawberries, baby zucchini, cucumbers, kohlrabi, beets and other goodies that didn't last long on his table.

"I've got peas growing but it's going to be awhile," said customer Bobbi Held, picking up the last of the containers of peas in pods. "Our daughter is coming for the weekend and she loves them," Held said.

Thorsons' 300-acre farm is planted with 35 acres of squash, 10 acres of corn and 15 acres of other crops, Erik said.

The family has numerous produce stands scattered around central Minnesota, but only one where buyers can purchase all the ingredients for a strawberry margarita in one location. And if the berries are too tempting to put into a blender, plain margaritas may have to suffice.

The produce stand will be at Dorset Corner through August and into September, weather and crops willing.