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Farmer switches to honor system to sell produce at roadside stand

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MARINE, IL (KPLR) – It`s the sound of Summer near Marine, Illinois.

'You can hear it,' says Joyce Smith.

The only way to know if a cantaloupe will be a hit with your crowd is through thumping.

They`re some just part of the produce you`ll find at the smith stand.

'Tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers all that stuff you know,' says Melvin Smith.

At Smith`s Farm Produce and Trailers, honesty is the best policy.

'I never get to see them,' says Melvin Smith. 'They just help themselves and leave.'

'People are honest and they like the stand and they`re glad you`re back,' says Joyce Smith.

Last year, the 27-year-old self-serve stand off Highway 4 nearly shut down when the numbers didn`t add up and the smiths left a note telling customers they might close. But farm fans kept coming back, each time adding a little extra to the till. And the honor system started to work again.

'I know, I know,' says Ella Kehl. 'So I either pay too much or not enough. But I hope too much.'

'There`s something about homegrown, fresh produce like this?' asks Patrick Clark.

'Oh yeah you`d rather from here than a supermarket,' says Michael Jordan visiting from Australia. Nearby, Metro East residents Dave and Sue Coppens pull up looking for some fresh tomatoes.

'You know,' adds Jordan, 'With the honor system, in the country areas, I think there`s still a great sense of community that you don`t see in the city anymore.

And if an old fashioned produce stand can sow the seeds of goodwill, then maybe that`s worth something, and there`s a tip to be learned and left in the box.