The Origins and Journey of 'Carl's Glass Gems' Rainbow Corn

Cherokee rare corn farmer Carl Barnes spent years isolating Native American corn varieties to save a lost heritage, ultimately preserving his glass gem corn seed.

| 12/13/2012

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    This remarkable rainbow corn is 'Carl's Glass Gems,' selected by Native American corn expert Carl Barnes.
    Greg Schoen
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    This is 'Carl's Dark Rainbow' corn, developed by Carl Barnes.
    Greg Schoen
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    A closeup image of 'Carl's Glass Gems' rainbow corn.
    Greg Schoen
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    This 'Clear Celeste' corn variety seems to glow with a light from within.
    Greg Schoen
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    'Baby Colors' rainbow corn is named for its softer pastel colors.
    Greg Schoen
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    This ghostly variation called 'Transparent Gems' offers an array of pale whites, grays and blues.
    Greg Schoen
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    The 'Glassy Emerald' rainbow corn displays a range of greens and golds.
    Greg Schoen
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    This stunning display of golds constitutes 'Montezuma's Platinum' rainbow corn.
    Greg Schoen
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    The glittering silk of a young 'Carl's Glass Gems' corn plant signals the variety's new beginning.
    Greg Schoen
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    'Blue Pearls' variety, still in the husk, reveals the beauty of matured silk.
    Greg Schoen
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    The 'Blue Pearls' rainbow corn.
    Greg Schoen
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    A trio of  'Carl's Glass Gems' corn.
    Greg Schoen
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    'Carl's Dark Rainbow' corn, developed by Native American corn expert Carl Barnes.
    Greg Schoen

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[Click here to view a video slideshow of more stunning 'Carl's Glass Gems' varieties.]  

The beginnings of maize, or corn as it is commonly called, go back to the indigenous farmers of south central Mexico who worked with its ancestral grasses to bring forth a usable grain. Over thousands of years the Native peoples of the Americas adopted maize into their agricultural and ceremonial lifeways, and developed it into the diverse forms that we see today.                                          

That little ear of corn with the translucent, jewel-colored kernels, whose picture has recently received attention around the world, has a story. And its kinfolk from a remarkably colorful gene pool share this story. Because of this exposure, I find it appropriate to personally share how this corn originated and its journey to this day.

The original seed was obtained from Carl L. Barnes of Oklahoma. Carl is now in his eighties and lives with his son, A.V. Barnes, on their original homestead in the panhandle of the state, a few miles south of Liberal, Kan.



Reconnecting With a Lost Heritage Through Rare Corn

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.

brooke
9/28/2017 3:56:34 AM

How do I go about purchasing? I would be honored to grow this amazingly, beautiful corn!


bmrain
9/28/2017 3:56:32 AM

Would love to grow your amazingly beautiful corn! How do I go about purchasing? Thank you for your time!


bmrain
9/28/2017 3:47:06 AM

Would love to grow your amazingly beautiful corn! How do I go about purchasing? Thank you for your time!







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