Heritage Corn: Planting, Challenges, and Educating from the Family Plot Perspective

A funded project from the USDA´s Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education program, North Central Region

This project was submitted by Zuleyja Prieto and Jon Zirkle in 2020, as a continued effort to work with heritage corn and tackle the challenges identified in the Michiana Heritage Corn Project, where they both participated in previous years.  Among those challenges were the need to keep native corn free from genetically modified organisms, and yet the need to amplify the seed bank. 

It was decided that heritage corn seed needed to be shared among families, to grow and care for in their backyards.  With funds from the project, a group of around 20 families received seeds, training, teaching and support to learn how to care for and use heritage corn.  The group was also intentional about making space for the spiritual and ceremonial aspects of native corn.  Common challenges were confronted as a group, leading to a strong community of heritage corn growers with increased knowledge as well as context about the cultural value of heritage corn.

Different techniques such as late planting, hand pollinating and separation by urban and suburban barriers were employed to keep our native corn from cross pollination with GMO corn grown all around us.  After genetic testing, for two consecutive years we were able to keep our sacred seeds within family circles and free of genetically modified organisms.

Read more about this project in the link below:

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