Two Vesper girls sell sweet corn and learn life skills

Grace Connatser
Wisconsin State Farmer
Allison Marti, 12, and Chloe Marti, 8, work on their family's dairy farm.

Two Vesper girls are learning about hard work and patience through selling sweet corn from their family farm.

This will be the third year Allison and Chloe Marti, 12 and 10 respectively, have sold sweet corn to help pay for their ski camps and races during the winter. They first started planting on a half-acre, but they now plant three and a half acres of corn. Last year, they raised $2,000, and the family expects to do even better this summer.

They have also sold zucchini bread, pickles and pumpkins, depending on the year. Their brothers Jacob, 8, and Ryan, 5, help them pick the corn from the fields.

“I think I have a better head start of working on the farm and earning money,” Allison said. “My … friends wish that they could live on a farm and be able to earn money and have the experience of being with animals all the time.”

“My mom really helps a lot with everything,” Chloe said. “[She’s] helping me understand how we have to make money, but you have to learn to budget it well to make it pay off.”

Their mom, Melissa Marti, helps them manage their earnings. She said they sell everything they grow and make every year, and they’re even growing extra this year due to increased demand. Marti said her daughters sell from a stand on the farm, but social media posts also help to spread the word about the sweet corn.

Marti, who helps local schools with social media management, also manages the Marti Farms social media pages. She said she wants to help educate others and combat misinformation about food production and farmer lives.

“It’s more about … giving people a peek into what life on the farm looks like,” Marti said. “There’s just so much misinformation out there, and we just wanted to do our part to help give people resources.”

Marti said Allison and Chloe do ski racing in Wausau. Initially, they were also working to raise money to go to a ski camp in Colorado, but since the summer selling has taken off, the girls can afford to pay for extra camps and races. Marti said Allison will be joining a traveling ski team in the Midwest this year that races in Minnesota and Michigan.

The Marti family’s neighbor Bruce Rademan, a retired dairy farmer who has farmed corn for years, helps them sell it at a local gas station down the road from the farm.

From left to right: Jacob Marti, 8, Ryan Marti 5, Allison Marti, 12, and Chloe Marti, 8, sit on their corn planter.

Rademan has lived a mile and a half from the Marti farm for decades and even knew Travis Marti's father and grandfather. The Martis rent land from Rademan's 80 acres to grow crops, including the sweet corn, which they plant intermittently throughout the spring and summer to spread out the harvests. Rademan said he'll help the Allison and Chloe harvest and sell the corn as long as he's able, because it's fun.

"It just started as a small patch, and all at once, it just kinda took off," Rademan said. "I think it's great that their folks are teaching them to earn their money instead of just handing it over."

Rademan said the sweet corn sales have become such a hit in their small town, people are always asking him when they'll be selling it next. He also said it's a unique way to teach kids life skills. This year, Allison and Chloe will help him sell the corn at the gas station where he usually sets up shop, he said.

"Nothing should be given to you," he said. "You have to work for it. There's always a price to pay, you know."

Since school cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the girls have had a lot more time to work on the farm and continue developing life skills, Allison said. Allison also said she is glad she gets the farming experience because she loves animals, including the family’s milking cow Ms. D and cats George and Gracie. Allison said she hopes to be a veterinarian someday.

Marti said it’s important her daughters learn life skills from working hard and using their hands. Her daughters do other farm work alongside their dad Travis, like maintaining their dairy cows, but as a former math teacher, Marti said she wants to teach her daughters how to budget, make calculations and learn the value of the dollar.

“It’s important for me that they can deal with the numbers,” Marti said. “It’s good for them to be able to keep track of and be able to work with the money, and understand that things have cost.”