The Incredible Glass Gem Corn

Posted by M ws On Friday, April 4, 2014 0 comments
Recently, Angela sent me some pics and short notes on the topic in this post. Feeling curious, I googled for more information and came across this post which said:

If you’ve spent any time online recently, you might have noticed a striking photo making its rounds. Feast your eyes on Glass Gem corn: a stunning, multi-colored heirloom that has taken Facebook and the blogosphere by storm. With its opalescent kernels glimmering like rare jewels, it’s easy to see what the buzz is about. This is some truly mind-blowing maize.

For the staff here at Native Seeds/SEARCH, the viral explosion of interest in Glass Gem has been thrilling—but not surprising. As the proud stewards of this variety (along with the bioregional seed company, Seeds Trust) we are lucky enough to have grown and admired this extraordinary corn ourselves. Rest assured, this is no Photoshop sham. It is truly as stunning held in your your hand as it is on your computer screen. When you peel back the husk from a freshly harvested ear to reveal the rainbow of colors inside, it’s like unwrapping a magical present. And this is a gift that is meant to be shared far and wide.

Like many heirloom treasures, Glass Gem corn has a name, a place, and a story. Its origin traces back to Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee farmer living in Oklahoma. Barnes had an uncanny knack for corn breeding. More specifically, he excelled at selecting and saving seed from those cobs that exhibited vivid, translucent colors. Exactly how long Barnes worked on Glass Gem—how many successive seasons he carefully chose, saved, and replanted these special seeds—is unknown. But after many years, his painstaking efforts created a wondrous corn cultivar that has now captivated thousands of people around the world.

Approaching old age, Barnes bestowed his precious seed collection to Greg Schoen, his corn-breeding protégé. The weighty responsibility of protecting these seeds was not lost on Schoen. While in the process of moving in 2010, he sought out a place to store a sampling of the collection to ensure its safekeeping. Schoen passed on several unique corn varieties to fellow seedsman Bill McDorman, who was owner at the time of Seeds Trust, a small family seed company then located in central Arizona. (Today, Bill McDorman is Executive Director of Native Seeds/SEARCH.) Curious about the oddly named Glass Gems, he planted a handful of seeds in his garden. The spectacular plants that emerged took him by surprise. “I was blown away,” McDorman recalls. “No one had ever seen corn like this before.”

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