Meet some of the students who make Fresno State's famous sweet corn possible

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno State's sweet corn is a popular Central Valley staple, complete with scores of residents lining up to snag the vegetable on opening day. It's also an extremely hands-on experience for the students involved.

"There's never a typical day," said Fresno State senior Austin La Salle. "Anything with corn and I've probably done it, or will do it this summer."

When in school, La Salle worked two to three days on the University Agricultural Laboratory, a 1,000-acre campus farm that has dedicated 100 acres to vegetables and close to 85 of those to sweet corn. Now that school's out, La Salle is working five days a week.

"I'd never understood the importance of Fresno State corn," said the Firebaugh native. "But when you're out here working, people say 'oh so you work with the sweet corn' and they make a big deal out of it," he said with a laugh. "The first time I tried Fresno State corn I was like wow, I understand what they're talking about now."

The Valley-famous corn went on sale at the Gibson Farm Market on Friday at 7 a.m., where a large line of people was waiting to get the first batch. It's something employees at the store (also students) are used to seeing.

"I've gotten calls from people in Las Vegas, and they're like 'when is the corn coming in.' They freeze it and use it all year," said Sydney Manning, a student at the school who works at the market.

The work done by students is not simple. "We plant some early, we plant some later, that way demand is always met," said Ulises Gonzalez. He's been active in agriculture since he was 14 and regularly works with La Salle as the students take the corn all the way from seed to store.

"It gives you a sense of 'you did something, you fulfilled something,' and then when it goes out to the market... you feel like you did something for the community," Gonzalez said.

Last year, more than 500,000 ears of corn were sold at the Gibson Farm Market.

La Salle, Gonzalez and Manning all plan to pursue careers in agriculture after college.
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