Heritage corn makes a comeback

 

Powell Smith: I have long been interested in heirloom seed and the phenomenon called genetic erosion where we are losing varieties and as we lose varieties we lose germplasm as well. I met Mark Keisler and he was looking for an heirloom corn called Carolina Gourd Seed because it is a superior corn for grinding grits. And now we have successfully restored that heirloom to the public coffers and hopefully we will be able to begin distributing it through Clemson’s heirloom seed facility in the next couple of years and other people will be able to enjoy using Carolina Gourd Seed.

Mark Keisler: My total interest here is in getting this Gourd Seed back in the hands of the public. Everyone benefits when we share. If one gets this corn and keeps it to oneself, then society has lost a lot. I want everybody to have this so they can grow it and enjoy something from South Carolina. And Clemson was instrumental in helping me do this. Powell found a box of seed with zero percent germination, sent it to me, we planted it; three kernels came up which we petted and we babied and got two hundred and eighty seeds which we planted this year. And now we will have enough to plant probably four acres next year.