About us

This project started around 2018 in Northern Indiana, United States, when a group of people passionate about native corn decided to join efforts and share teachings.  After several seasons of growing together indigenous corn to North, Central and South America, we started realizing corn’s tremendous root that unites us as a culture, and this sparked the desire to know more, and to now not just keep the precious seed, but to also share it among families in our community and fight to keep it free of genetically modified organisms.  Not an easy task, considering we live in an area surrounded by commercial corn.

As a collaborative team, we decided to submit a project to the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, (https://projects.sare.org/sare_project/fnc21-1295/) with a vision to honor, keep, learn from, and share heritage corn and its cultural practices.   We face a scientific, cultural, and social challenge.  But above all, this is an ideological endeavor as we strive to plant native, organic corn in a respectful manner and as families, for our consumption and the sustenance of our homes and values.

We organized a group of around 20 planting families, a multigenerational group that included experienced farmers as well as people who had never grown corn before.  Native corn seed was shared among the participants, in ceremony.  Together, and for the duration of two growing seasons, the group of planting families received classroom and on the field training; resources such as compost, tools, and materials were shared.  We would gather to help in each other ́s plots and to brainstorm about common challenges.  We also gathered for educational field trips, to cook and eat corn products together.  Everyone put forth their time and talents to move the group forward.

With funds from the S.A.R.E grant we were able to test different strategies to help our planting families keep the sacred seeds GMO free.  We tried late planting, suburban barriers and hand pollinating.  After all, both seasons we managed to keep our corn free from genetically modified organisms.  Even though the grant funds have ended, we are a strong community of corn growers that actively participates in sharing the immense cultural and nutritional value of heritage corn.  You may find Rooting Through Corn, Planting families in a backyard, at a local seed swap, teaching a workshop or participating in other planting projects.  We will keep seeking out interested families and working for a better understanding of earth friendly corn growing practices.  We feel very blessed to be stewarding these sacred corn seeds.

About the Project Coordinator

Zuleyja Prieto has been a gardening and corn enthusiast since childhood.  Her focus on native seed and traditions has grown through research, travel/life experiences, and a deep respect for Mother Earth.  She is currently leading the Rooting Through Corn, Planting Families project locally, and enjoys seeing people’s surprise when they learn that heritage corn can be grown and eaten in their own backyard!