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



carls glass gems1

This remarkable rainbow corn is 'Carl's Glass Gems,' selected by Native American corn expert Carl Barnes.


Greg Schoen

[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.

jfackler
7/3/2017 10:35:42 AM

Mr. Schuen you have some absolutely beautiful corn. How would I go about buying some seeds from you. I have a small garden that I would love to make this part of. Jeff Fackler


jfackler
7/3/2017 10:35:20 AM

*Schoen


jfackler
7/3/2017 10:35:19 AM

Mr. Schuen you have some absolutely beautiful corn. How would I go about buying some seeds from you. I have a small garden that I would love to make this part of. Jeff Fackler


jfackler
7/3/2017 10:34:48 AM

Mr. Schuen you have some absolutely beautiful corn. How would I go about buying some seeds from you. I have a small garden that I would love to make this part of. Jeff Fackler


jfackler
7/3/2017 10:33:04 AM

*Shoen. Sorry about auto correct


jfackler
7/3/2017 10:33:03 AM

Mr. Schuen you have some absolutely beautiful corn. How would I go about buying some seeds from you. I have a small garden that I would love to make this part of. Jeff Fackler


john
8/22/2016 4:51:04 PM

Hi, Beautiful corn! If possible we would love to have a few seeds as well! Thanks


wayne
8/22/2016 2:53:36 PM

I also would like to buy some of your seeds to grow in my home garden... its a real beauty Wayne


butch
6/26/2014 9:07:20 PM

MR SCHUEN...I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE SOME OF YOUR GLASS CORN SEEDS, ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS IS FROM IOWA AND HE WAS JUST FASINATED WHEN I SHOWED HIM THE PICTURES OF THE CORN. THANK YOU. MARGARET WEBER...204 IDLEWILD ROAD ...BEL AIR, MD 21014


sharon
3/15/2013 2:59:35 PM

mr. carl barnes, Hi im from hooker,okla. I have lived in rushsylvania,ohio for 39 years. Im also 1/3 souix. i would love to have some seeds of the glass corn. I used to plant blue corn and make corn meal. I no longer have those seeds either. Im a large gardener, I can all I grow. sharon kramer






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