Growing Popcorn


Tobias WhitakerWe all know that corn is king. In the southern tier of New York State, sweet corn is available at every farm stand. When we planted our first family garden, we grew heirloom sweet corn. Eventually it seemed rather silly to give so much garden space to a vegetable that we could drive around the corner and buy so we decided to discontinue the practice.

As our garden expanded, along with our self-reliance, we began growing items that we were able to store and enjoy well into the long, cold winter months. One of the items we explored was popcorn. 

Smoke Signals Popcorn drying under ceiling fan.  

Smoke Signals Popcorn drying under ceiling fan.

I love heirloom plants. I really enjoy learning about their history and in turn relating my own experience to that of a long historical thread of farmers and gardeners. Popcorn easily falls into that category. For example, ancient indigenous tombs in Peru contained kernels that were so well preserved that they were able to be popped and eaten after their discovery.

A 1,700-year-old funeral urn in Mexico depicted a corn god wearing a headdress of popcorn. It is easy to image why such a prolific and easily stored food source would play such an important cultural role in ancient history. I suppose on some level corn has never really lost its foothold when you look at the current state of farming.

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