By David R. Schleper
Charlie and Dorothy Ten Eyck and their six children lived on a three-acre “farm” right in the middle of Shakopee, on East Fourth Street. Besides raising honey bees and various fruits, the Ten Eycks had a huge vegetable garden. It was on Fillmore and Market Street, and closer to Fifth Avenue. Dorothy canned and froze all the fruits and vegetables the family could use, and the surplus was sold to friends and neighbors.
Charlie received first place in the whole state in cut-comb honey. He also took blue ribbons in Concord grapes, Portland grapes, Juanita plums, and Mount Royal plums. His exhibits of extracted honey, Regent apples, crabapples, and Fredonia grapes rated red ribbons. “We’ve been exhibiting for the past five years and this is the fifth year straight our Concord grapes have won blue ribbons,” said Charlie Ten Eyck in 1968.
Commenting on his honey exhibit, Ten Eyck said it takes 24 boxes of cut-comb honey, or 24 jars of extracted honey to make up a state fair exhibit. The reason for this is so judges can get an all-around sample of the honey crop. Honey is judged on flavor, color, and density and exhibitors compete with each other, rather than against a score sheet.
Charlie Ten Eyck raised his crops as a hobby, as he worked full-time for the Minnesota Correctional Institution for Women at Shakopee as a guard and maintenance man.
The Ten Eycks’ 100-year-old house was heated by floor furnaces, leaving the basement an excellent storage spot for winter crops such as potatoes and squash. The Ten Eycks ate their own potatoes year round. “Last year I grew Russet potatoes a foot long in this wonderful sandy soil,” Charlie said.
Dorothy Ten Eyck demonstrated the huge honey extractor operated in the basement storeroom. The extractor came from her father, Leonard Kaiser of Fish Lake, who also started the Ten Eycks raising bees by giving them their original swarm in 1958.
The Ten Eycks attributed their success in gardening to their soil, a rich sandy loam, and to regular use of manures and other fertilizers, as well as an insect control program using sprays. “But it is a lot of hard work,” they both said. “You’ve got to love it.”
(Some information from “Charles Ten Eyck Sweeps State Fair Fruit, Comb Honey Class,” Shakopee Valley News, 12 Sept 1968.)