February 28, 2024

Lenni Lenape Blue Pulling Corn

by Tessa Desmond in Projects

Lenni Lenape Blue Corn shared at a breakfast during the Lenape History & Culture Symposium.  Oct 2022.  Photo by Tessa Lowinske Desmond.

Lenni Lenape Blue Pulling Corn Revitalization Project

Faculty Leads: Tessa Lowinske Desmond and Sarah Rivett

Collaborating Partners: Experimental Farm Network, Native Roots Farm Foundation

The Lenni Lenape Blue Pulling Corn Project and the Maycock and Nanticoke Squash Project are both revitalization projects that aim to bring the seeds of Lenape varieties back to Lenapehoking and build interest in growing, eating, and maintaining them.  Ancestral seeds have an important role to play in resilient agriculture because they have evolved to survive and fill important ecological niches in their specific places.  Ancestral seeds can also carry important stories, histories, and lessons for survival.  Through the revitalization projects for these varieties, we are working to understand and help recover the agricultural wisdom and cultural knowledge related to these crops.  

We are still learning about the story of this corn variety that is thought to have originated in Lenapehoking a long time ago.  Seeds of Lenni Lenape Blue Pulling Corn were shared with The Seed Farm by Nate Kleinman, co-founder and co-director of the Experimental Farm Network, who received seed for this rare variety of blue sweet corn from Cherokee seedkeeper Chris Hubbard.  Kleinman is working to share seed of this variety back to people in the Lenape Diaspora and especially those people still living in Lenapehoking.  He has asked The Seed Farm to grow this special crop in order to multiply the seed for sharing.  Along the way, The Seed Farm has had the opportunity to invite attendees of the Lenape History and Culture Symposium, many of whom are from the Lenape Diaspora, and the Munsee Language Camp, a gathering of Munsee language teachers, to participate in seed selection of this crop for successive plantings.

This seed plays a special role in the life of The Seed Farm.  It is one of the first seeds that was shared with us to grow.  The seed also contains many of the aspirations we have for the farm: to grow rare, culturally-meaningful seeds and participate in replenishment and revitalization of both the seed’s stock and the seed’s stories.  To recognize its special place in the life of the farm, each spring graduating seniors are asked to plant the seeds for this crop. 

In 2024, we will begin growing this corn in partnership with Native Roots Farm Foundation by planting it in a Three Sisters garden with squash seeds from the Maycock and Nanticoke Squash Revitalization Project.  Our organizations will tend these plantings together, one garden in Princeton at The Seed Farm and one garden closer to Native Roots’ headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware.

To read more about this variety of corn (or maize) visit the Experimental Farm Network’s information page.

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