Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Red Flint Corn; a story of slow food and our dream fulfilled

Remember the corn that we were growing for Anson Mills, in S.C., to grind into polenta? It is ready! These first few pictures show the corn's progression from the spring until today:

This morning, Nicolas checked the corn's moisture. It needed to be pretty dry for us to be able to pick it. It's a hard balance, waiting for it to get really dry and hoping that the crows and bugs don't get too much of it. Last year, the bugs were a big problem and the crop was really small. This year was different, for a few reasons. For one, it was planted in very rich soil, where garlic was grown last year. Soil rotation is key. And I would like to think we got such a good yield because it was a family project. A lot of intention went into this crop. We decided last spring to grow this corn together and then use the money we would get towards tickets to Australia. The kids always get paid when they work at the farm but for this they agreed to work towards our trip. First, Jesse seeded the heritage seeds (that were sent to us by Anson Mills) in trays. Later, Nicolas and Gillen transplanted the seedlings into the ground. Jesse and I weeded, and today we all picked,shucked and boxed the beautiful red ears, for Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills to pick up this afternoon. A few months ago, we opened a savings account for the Australia trip. We deposited all the change that we had been putting in jars for years (which came to $450) as well as a check from my grandmother who wanted to help us visit my brother. With this final Red Flint Corn money, I think we will have enough to get the tickets. Kenneth, Naomi and baby - see you soon!

Here an ear had been opened up by the crows.
The small guy to the left, whom I once called to, yelling "Jesse" - yes, I really did - is Gillen's scarecrow that he built next to one of the more crow-hit rows of corn.
It was probably the hottest day yet this summer- up in the high 90s. In between the picking and the shucking we took a watermelon break and dunked our heads under the faucet. We had great conversation during the shucking - about whether it would be better to live by a stream in NC (Gillen's vote if we move) or by the Amazon River in Brazil (Jesse's choice).

The husks were thrown onto the compost. I did keep a few husks as well as one ear of corn to make a corn husk doll like the one Laura Ingalls had for a gift we're planning.

Lastly, Glenn Roberts, owner of Anson Mills heritage grain mill in S.C., came to pick up his corn. He was very pleased. He told us more about the history of this seed. Originally this breed was saved from heritage crops on the Floriani farm in Italy. This family has been farming for countless generations. Glenn got their seeds through William Rubel, who is an expert in traditional cooking. Check out the William Rubel web site - it is so cool, especially if you are interested in slow food or in cooking. Glenn said that he would send us a bit of polenta in a week, once he has milled all of the corn, just so we can taste it. He saw Gillen building his fence for his soon-to-arrive turkeys and put in an order for one for Thanksgiving (will have to be Dec. we're thinking). The chicks arrive in two days. On to the next project.

There are better pictures of the day on flickr badge to right, if I haven't already taken up too much of your time.


kelli said...

So cool! What an amazing process!

North Carolina move?? That's one of our options ;) And I want water nearby too. I think those Blue Ridge Mountains are calling *g*

Danielle said...

Talk about inspiration! Golly, I want to come visit you guys and see it in person in the worst way!

What kind of turkeys is Gillen planning to raise?

Damien Donck and my wife Stacy Donck said...

How much corn was there all together?
It looked Hot Hot. I hope it cools off soon. D

Madeline said...

Kelli, I hear you! Let's discuss taking over a mountain , with a creek, while in NC in Sept.

Danielle, he ordered Red Bourbon turkeys (or is it Bourbon Red?) I just hope they are ok in the mail in this heat. We're worried about them.

And Damien, man is it hot. Tomorrow is supposed to be the worst. I hope it cools off soon too.

Hope all you northerners are cooler up there; sometimes you're just as hot round now.

William Rubel said...

This is William Rubel posting, the one who introduced Floriani Red Flint to Glenn Roberts. This corn does come from the Floriani family. However, they are no longer farmers and the seed is not seed they saved when they were farmers. The seed that that this now US corn is linked to was given to the family by a family friend when, as a hobby, Mr. Floriani, in his retirement, decided to grow some corn for family use.

kittrean tanner said...

I read about this corn in MotherEarth News Mag. Looking all over the net...particularly the websites noted in article...and no luck. :/ Any ideas of where I can get some seeds???

kittrean tanner said...

I read about this corn in MotherEarth News Mag. Looking all over the net...particularly the websites noted in article...and no luck. :/ Any ideas of where I can get some seeds???