Some of you might remember the internet sensation that was 'Glass Gem' corn when it was making the rounds of Facebook and Pinterest last year. The gorgeous colors exhibited by this heirloom variety are almost too amazing to be believed. But believe it. I've seen it in person and it's just that stunning.
Last October, I attended the Garden Writers Association annual meeting, held in Tucson, Arizona. It was my first trip to Arizona and was much too short. I was only there for a few days and one of the big reasons for going was to meet with the co-author of my upcoming book release, Jenny Peterson. Jenny lives in Austin, Texas, so any chance we have of getting together is taken.
|Jenny and me at the GWA meeting in Tucson|
One of the places the garden writers visited was Native Seeds/SEARCH in Patagonia. According to their website:
Native Seeds/SEARCH conserves, distributes and documents the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seeds, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwest and northwest Mexico. We promote the use of these ancient crops and their wild relatives by gathering, safeguarding, and distributing their seeds to farming and gardening communities.
Native Seeds/SEARCH is a non-profit conservation organization based in Tucson, Arizona. Since 1983, we have become a major regional seed bank and a leader in the heirloom seed movement. Our seed bank is a unique resource for both traditional and modern agriculture. It includes over 1,800 varieties of arid-land adapted agricultural crops, many of them rare or endangered. We promote the use of these ancient crops and their wild relatives by distributing seeds to traditional communities and to gardeners world wide.
Currently we offer over 350 varieties from the collection we steward, grown out at our Conservation Farm in Patagonia, Arizona, and associated products through our online store, annual seedlisting, and our retail store. We also offer seeds of crop varieties that are not traditional to the Southwest but that can contribute to regional food security.
When I first saw 'Glass Gem' corn online last summer, I fell in love with its jewel-toned kernels and didn't really care if it was edible or not. While mostly grown for its ornamental beauty, 'Glass Gem' is also used for making flour and is a popping corn! In any case, I knew I wanted to grow it, so I went to the website, only to find out there was a waiting list. No big surprise there.
There it was, looking as beautiful as I'd seen it online:
'Glass Gem' is an heirloom variety selectively bred over a period of years by Carl Barnes, a part-Cherokee farmer from Oklahoma. He shared his seeds with one of his students, Greg Schoen, who then shared them with Bill McDorman, now executive director at Native Seeds/SEARCH.
|Bill McDorman, executive director of Native Seeds/SEARCH, |
speaking to members of the Garden Writers Association
in October 2012
Sold only through the Native Seeds/SEARCH website, I received notification yesterday that I could purchase 'Glass Gem' now. Over 7,000 people are on the waiting list and through a special link, only those people can purchase one packet of 50 seeds. With that many people (and more) wanting these seeds, it's doubtful that everyone will be able to get them, at least not this season.
I'm pretty excited that I will be able to grow this beauty here at Our Little Acre this year. Of course, I'll be saving the seed from this year's crop so that I can continue to grow it. It could be interesting though, to see what happens in my garden, since the farmer's field that is directly adjacent to the gardens will be growing corn this year and will likely cross-pollinate with it (depending on the stages of development for each at the time of pollination). And "it" undoubtedly will be one of the Monsanto-bred varieties. That's another story for another day...
|The beauty of seeds...|
|Renee Shepherd, seedsman extraordinaire and owner of |
Renee's Garden Seeds, learns about these native seed varieties.
|Hopi rattle gourd seeds (Lagenaria siceraria)|
|Native Plants/SEARCH operates a regional seed bank, with over |
1,800 varieties of arid-land adapted agricultural crops, many of
them rare or endangered.
|Love the art and the gabions!|
Visit Native Seeds/SEARCH for more information and to order very unique seeds for your own garden.