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How One Farmer's 'Vision' Keeps Them All Honest

In the far reaches of Leelanau County, in the very northwestern part of lower Michigan, is the establishment of a black-dirt farmer who sells his summer crops from an untended roadside kiosk. In addition to the excellence of his sweet corn, white potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, and zucchini, the proprietor's astonishing faith in the inherent honesty of his random itinerant "drive-ins" makes one marvel.

His produce is piled in cardboard boxes or quart-sized bushel baskets, except for the corn, which is scattered in profusion on a rear counter. The price - whether per item (zucchini, 20 cents each) or per pound (broccoli, 80 cents per pound) - is clearly indicated on each, and there is a venerable hanging scale capable of coming, I'd guess, within an ounce or two of whatever you need to weigh.

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Tacked onto the front of the kiosk is a hand-lettered notice: "SELF SERV US, PUT MONEY IN BOX," referring to a foot-cube slotted box on the counter. In front of said box is a dish of nickels, dimes, and quarters, in case you need to make change - although I have noticed that many "changeless" customers will simply round up to the next dollar. On the back of the kiosk is another hand-lettered sign: "THANKS FOR BEING HONEST."

Ah, the touching idealism of rural life!

But not so fast. If you look closely at that hand-lettered anticipation of square-dealing, you will see that our nimble farmer has written at the top in similar script: "God sees everything," thus lodging a pesky flea in the ear of any potential chiseler.

That's a mighty powerful combination - presumed human honesty nevertheless supervised by the eye of the Lord - and I'd bet our man of the soil loses hardly a dime.

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