Cornmeal and Foraging

Wild Blackberries ripening at the edge of the front lot

It’s high time I posted a new blog, I guess. Things are going well down on the farm, but of course that means, with only two of us technically “on staff,” we’re both really, really busy!

As you probably heard from us, our crop of Jimmy Red corn did really well last year, so we (and a number of kind friends and family) spent the late fall and winter shelling the ears, setting aside our seed corn for this year, and sending some of the remainder to a local miller to turn into cornmeal, grits, and a little bit of cracked corn for Chip to experiment with (we’ve talked about a lot of that over on Engineered Spirits’ social channels).

Then, we had to pivot and figure out how to actually sell what we’d milled. You might think we would already have figured that out beforehand, but, remember, we’re new at this farming thing, or at least I am. Besides, we didn’t expect the size crop we had. So, lesson learned.

I attended the PickTn conference in February and that was very helpful for us to learn about packaging and labelling considerations that apply to such a product. And of course, we still had to find farm stores or other businesses that would actually put our cornmeal and grits on their shelves. Just this past week, we were able to make it available for purchase at The Local Farmer, a farm store in Pulaski that offers products from over 20 local farms, including some of the prettiest beef you ever saw. So now, we just need y’all to go there and buy some cornmeal, as well as a few other of the great products they have on offer. Deal?

In late May we got this year’s Jimmy Red crop in the ground, it’s sprouted and it’s looking very good so far. We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed that the rain comes when it’s needed and the corn borers don’t find us. We planted the whole field this time, so if all goes well, it’s going to be a huge crop. Good thing we got that corn picker at auction last fall!

But we can’t just stand around and watch the corn grow, no matter how hot the weather is. Instead we’re turning our attention to the summer harvest of berries and fruit.  We just recently finished harvesting elderflowers for making cordial. Next up will be the raspberries and blackberries, we have a few peaches on, and after that, we’ll just have to see what the fields and the forest provide us to eat, to cook with and to experiment with.

What we can harvest changes from year to year here. Some years we’ll have a bounty of walnuts or persimmons or pawpaws or berries. Other years, they barely produce at all. But there’s always something else that comes along and thrives to fill the gaps. And it’s always a joy to see how much this land can provide, whether we planted it here, or not.

We’re very grateful.