Sunday, April 24, 2016

Celebrating the Life of Carl L Barnes

To a seed geek like myself, Carl L Barnes was a hero.  We were sad to hear of his passing on April 16th, 2016.

Seed Braodcast,
"Family, friends, and the seed saving community mourn the passing of Carl ‘White Eagle’ Barnes, who died in Grove, Oklahoma on Saturday morning, April 16. Carl was known for his years of work with heritage corn, enabling many Native tribes to recover and reunite with their sacred seeds."

From Mother Earth News,
"Carl is of half Cherokee, half Scotch-Irish ancestry and was born in the family’s original farmhouse about a half-mile from his current home. His father had moved the family west, where they acquired land and set up farming on the High Plains. Carl spent his childhood on this homestead, and the family lived through the 1930s Dust Bowl years, staying to survive the ordeal rather than leaving as many did at that time in our history.

As a youth, Carl began to seek out his Cherokee roots, exploring the knowledge of his own ancestors and of Native American traditions in general, by learning from his grandfather. Much of this quest centered on the ceremonies surrounding planting, harvesting, and honoring seeds. Carl went on to earn a degree in Agricultural Education, and later in his adult years worked with the Cooperative Extension Service. He also spent several years serving with the Kansas Highway Patrol. Carl continued working the farm, along with his wife Karen, and they raised a family.

In the course of growing some of the older corn varieties still being farmed at that time, Carl began noticing ancestral types of corn re-appearing in his crops. As he isolated these, he found many of the variants to match up with traditional corns that had been lost to many of the Native tribes – particularly those peoples who had been relocated during the 1800s to what is now Oklahoma. Thus, he was able to re-introduce specific corn types to the elders of those tribes, and this helped their people in reclaiming their cultural identities. The corn is, to them, literally the same as their blood line, their language, and their sense of who they are."

What are some of the Heirloom Corn varieties that Carl worked to "Back to Life"?
The Glass Gem Corn is probably the most popular variety at the moment.  A few others include the Painted Mountain Corn and the Cherokee Long Ear Popcorn.  These are some of the most stunning heirloom corn varieties I have ever seen!

This week we'll be highlighting our Heirloom Corn varieties.  If you have additional questions please ask!

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