October 12, 2018 Glass Gem corn, a unique variety of rainbow-colored corn, became an internet sensation in 2012 when a photo of […]
October 12, 2018
Glass Gem corn, a unique variety of rainbow-colored corn, became an internet sensation in 2012 when a photo of the sparkling cob was posted to Facebook.
The story behind these special corn cobs started with an Oklahoma-based farmer named Carl Barnes. As an adult, the half-Cherokee Native American began growing older varieties of the crop as a way to reconnect to his roots.
In doing this, he isolated heirloom corn seeds that were lost to Native American tribes when, in the 1800s, they were relocated to present-day Oklahoma.
Barnes shared and exchanged the ancient corn seeds with people he had met around the country, while he also selected and planted grains from the more colorful varieties.
This is how the dazzling rainbow corn was born, but these weren’t crops that he kept to himself. Thanks to Barnes, fellow farmer Greg Schoen became acquainted with the vegetable in 1994 at a native-plant gathering in Oklahoma.
Mesmerized by the colors, Barnes gave Schoen some of the seeds, who then planted the rainbow corn next to traditional yellow varieties. This mixture led to new and exciting hybrids.
Like Barnes, Schoen passed the seeds along to others, one being Bill McDorman. He owned an Arizona company called Seed Trust, and he’s now the Executive Director of Native Seeds/SEARCH. The non-profit conservation organization now sells the seeds online.
On the Native Seeds/SEARCH website, one packet of seeds can be purchased for $3.25. Directions are provided on the back of the packet.
Seeds are planted 1 inch deep and around 6 inches apart in blocks of at least three rows (rather than a single long row) for good pollination.
The Glass Gem Facebook page is filled with photos from people who have planted and harvested their own Glass Gem corn.