Corn (Maize) is the grain of the Americas, with origins in Mexico. Over two thousand years ago
corn became a staple crop across much of pre-European America or “Turtle Island” as Native people
prefer to call it. Skilled native farmers, likely women, carefully adapted and developed corn varieties
suitable for each unique bio region. Corn suitable for the Northeast had to be able to mature in a shorter
season than that of the Southwest and also had to be able to be stored in our comparatively wet climate.
The classic heirloom corn of the New England region was our eight rowed hard shelled corn which came
to be known as Flint Corn.
Native Americans grew many varieties of flint corn. Corn grown in the far North near our
Maine/Quebec border was smaller and grew in a 70-80 day window. Corn further south could be taller
and have a larger season. Four varieties of Maine Flint Corn and one possible variety of Maine Flour
Corn called Abenaki Rose have been saved and are being grown out by Albie Barden of Norridgewock
and friends of the Maine Grain Alliance. Two years ago, Albie gave ten pounds of a Mohawk area
heirloom flint corn called Darwin John to Rusted Rooster Farm and we planted one acre of the corn.
Family and friends harvested and shucked the corn and readied it for drying in a corn crib and aerated
vented totes in a hoop on our farm.
In the 2018 season we grew a Maine Flint Corn variety called Byron which was conserved by Will
Bonsall of the Great Seed Project in Industry for nearly forty years. Richard Roberts of the Maine Grain
Alliance gave us (RRF) ten pounds of the Byron and we grew one acre of Bryon on fresh ground planted
closely together and heavily manured with wood ash added. We had a good crop of this proven and tasty
corn (for cornbread, corn cakes, Johnny cakes, etc.) and the corn has been tested as GMO free. We are
offering the corn through The Potato Lady in Newport, and have additional supplies of corn available in
wholesale volumes only at $2 lb. Which is a fraction of the cost currently being
charged online for heritage organic flint corn.
By Albie Barden