Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Carl Barnes and Glass Gem Corn

….. truly an inspiration to all who save seeds.

A stunning variety selected by Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee farmer and breeder, from several traditional corn varieties. Produces a diversity of gorgeous translucent, jewel-colored ears, each one unique. A popcorn, the kernels may be ground into cornmeal or popped….

image

…..For millennia, people have elegantly interacted with the plants that sustain them through careful selection and seed saving. This process, repeated year after year, changes and adapts the plants to take on any number of desirable characteristics, from enhanced color and flavor to disease resistance and hardiness.

The bounty of genetic diversity our ancestral farmers and gardeners created in this way was shared and handed down across generations. But under today’s industrial agricultural paradigm of monocropping, GMOs, and hybrid seeds, this incredible diversity has been narrowed to a shred of its former abundance. A 1983 study compared the seed varieties found in the USDA seed bank at the time with those available in commercial seed catalogs in 1903. The results were striking.

Of the 408 different tomato varieties on the market at the turn of the century, less than 80 were present in the USDA collection. Similarly, lettuces that once flourished with 497 heirloom varieties were only represented by 36 varieties. The same held true for most other veggies including sweet corn, of which only a dozen cultivars were preserved out of 307 unique varieties once available in the catalogs. Though this data leaves some questions around actual diversity decline, the trend toward dwindling crop diversity is alarming. In just a few generations, both the time-honored knowledge of seed saving and many irreplaceable seeds are in danger of disappearing.

Though much of this diversity may be gone, all hope is not lost. The emergence of a breathtaking heirloom variety like Glass Gem reveals that the art and magic of seed saving lives on. It reminds us that we can return to this age-old practice and restore beauty, wonder, and abundance to our world. Indeed, this renaissance is already underway. The rising seed library movement is encouraging local gardeners to become crop breeders and empowering communities to reclaim sovereignty over their food. Our pioneering Seed School program at Native Seeds/SEARCH is training people from all walks of life in building sustainable local seed systems rooted in ancient traditions. And as eye-popping images of Glass Gem continue to spread around the world, Carl Barnes’ kaleidoscopic corn has become a beacon—and perhaps an inspiring symbol—for the global seed-saving revival….

Copied from “Native Seeds”, an American native seed company.

Photo: Thank you for the new Glass Gem Corn photo from Seed Freedom.  Seeds available from Native Seeds/SEARCH:  http://shop.nativeseeds.org/collections/corn-popcorn/products/ts363

2 comments:

africanaussie said...

oh that corn is beautiful! I love saving seeds - it just feels like closing the loop.

Raymondo said...

The colours are stunning. Pity that home gardeners cannot import corn.