155. Painted Mountain Open Pollinated Corn | North Frontier Foods | Dave Christensen | Big Timber, MT

Dave Christensen Painted Mountain Corn

Dave Christensen’s Painted Mountain Corn is changing the world.Seed We Need Dave Christensen Painted Mountain CornDave Christensen is here from North Frontier Foods and Seed We Need

North Frontier Foods Dave Christensen open pollinated cornI’ve been trying to get this guest on for a long time, becasue I am going to be running some replays from last year’s AERO’s expo as a run up to this years AERO expo October 7-9, 2016.  I didn’t meet Dave at last year’s Expo but I heard all about him. He’s with us today and he has some amazing corn he is going to tell us about!

What We Need Is Here Poster

Painted Mountain Corn has the colors of the rainbow and the antioxidant qualities that come with those many colors. Recent research demonstrates clearly that Dave’s breeding has real potential for human health.

I have spent most of my adult life creating this important gene pool of corn that is one of the most productive crops for stressed regions of the world.  This primitive corn is capable of helping many more people overseas, and farmers in the western USA, but it needs continued breeding to improve it.

AERO MT logo

AERO has been a tremendous help for me as far as connecting me with other people! I’ve been developing my Painted Mountain Corn for 45 years and it’s been on the market for almost 30 years! But going to AERO I met other like minded people and ran into other people who would grow different genetic lines for me. I am developing several different genetic lines that I believe the world is going to need in the future, if not right now,  some people need right now. So AERO introduced me to other like minded people who are helping me  develop these lines because you need a different farm for each line because you have to keep the pollen away from contamination.

You didn’t see me at the meeting because I’m harvesting, then, I have between 6 & ten farms all over Montana, and I can’t get there because I have to harvest at that time, but I love those but I owe a lot to AERO.

Well, I just heard about AERO last year when I started my podcast, but I have had my license plates since 2009 and when Jennifer Hill-Heart started her blog and Laura Behenna was on my show.

tent at AERO expo 2015

I found about the Expo and Robin Kelson from the Good Seed Company took me last year to Great Falls, but this year it’s in Kalispell. Where I met Ole, who I think is your partner at North Frontier Foods, who I have yet to get to come on the show, but he said call Dave!

Now we have some of your Painted Mountain Corn Seeds.  What you don’t know Dave, is that mostly my husband is the gardener. Our goal is to grow as much of our produce as we can, he grew some the first year, saved the seed and then they didn’t grow any this year license we kind of had a slow start but I’m sure he’d grow more next year.

Painted Mountain Rainbow corn

I started growing Painted Mountain Corn 45 years ago. We lived on the Flathead Reservation at that time, in Western Montana. We had a young family, the children  were growing up. I was a cowboy, I had a ranch job. I because to learn about the old ways of living and everything I could about life from homesteaders and American Indians, and teaching that to our kids so they would not forget where we came from.

When the kids got to be school age, moved to Big Timber because a bunch of like minded people were moving here then to start a community. We called ourselves wanted. We were mountain men. We wore Buckskins buckskin clothes, hunted together, living in teepees when we could. My family did more then anybody, to do what we could to live off the land.

We took our corn that we grew on the Flathead Reservatiion and started growing it here, but Reservation we lived at a higher because about 5000 feet, there was no corn there that would mature on time, around 1976. That was before local warming. We only had a 90 day, and there was no corn that would mature in that short of time. I tried everything from everywhere around the world… native corn the old homesteaders of Montana had saved, I got corn from Indians who still had it from when their grandparents grew it…At that elevation some would mature… 10% survived and the other 90% froze out…

I kept breeding those and each year, I added more genes as the years went by to:

  • increase protein
  • increase the yield
  • plant structure

It became, it was not my job but was biggest hobby for a while, til it became my full time work. I put my whole life for the last 20 years, that’s all I do , is breed corn. 

Now Painted Mountain Corn  is colored corn. So can you do the same things you do with regular corn?

Dave Christensen blue corn

Good question. It is colored, the colors are antioxidants called Anthocyanin.

Painted Mountain Corn Healing Effects

They have powerful healing effects they:

mankind never should have removed the colors from corn and made it all yellow, inflammatories they are so good for health.

So that’s something mankind did, by just breeding yellow corn?

Yes, the Indians, raised corn in all the different colors. Sometimes they would have a

  • pure red line
  • pure blue line
  • orange line
  • mixed

back in the early days, a family might have 3 different lines of corn from north america … everybody in the tribe would have their own genetic  … got lost when the way of life … almost nothing left, there are maybe 12 corn seeds in the national seed back, there are maybe only 50 altogether for the whole nation. I saved some, that were near extinct

There are different starches, some starch is very very soft, can grind into flour very easily, if you cut it in half it would like chalk inside. 

Some kinds of corn called flint corn has hard starch, you would have to break with a hammer, could not cut in half it just looks like a rock or peppel. It has other purposes. 

The most usable for most purposes, grind in a little home grinder by hand, turns into a soft powder

when you purchase corn meal

mix that with 50% soft wheat flour

with painted mountain corn, it’s not hard sand, its’ soft, soft flour…. when you make a corn bread from painted mountain corn… you don’t have to add anything to it… it’s the richest best tasting, and it’s going to come out blue! The blue predominates and that’s really healthy for….

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

I grew up in Southern California in a rural community, I worked on my uncle’s ranch, no body in my family ever grew vegetables, when I went into the Reservation in the 1970’s and I was stationed in Reservation Air-force and Tennessee, I was married and started growing our own gardens because the people did that there and we wanted to learn about that. But when I got out of the service and moved to Montana…I got serious about growing corn, then if people got serious about being self-sufficient and being able to feed themselves. …. And you can harvest corn by hand… it’s a big job to harvest wheat by hand. 

I’ll just talk about my Painted Mountain Corn because tat’s what’s important  Used to be a tanner, Arkansas the way the natives did for thousands of years, that made me popular with indians and I traveled around learning how to tan using bone and stone tools….

When I was down at the Taos Pueblo in NM, they said they would send me some corn, and one day I got a bag of corn in the mail, sorted by four colors:

  • red
  • blue
  • yellow
  • white

The red was a variety of buck-skinner orange shades, pink, reddish lavender and maroon… That was Taos, Air-force corn from 7k feet in New Mexico. We planted that for our Pueblo indian corn but only some matured, first Montana is farther north with our day length

Taos because corn was from such a high elevation it is also short season and cold tolerant. Our first year 30% of the plants made it because I was hooked up with other people who were Pueblo who were trying to rescue different buck-skinners skills from our forefathers. They started sending seeds from… indian corn from the region and crossbred them…

…discovered the national seed bank, and other sources, and began growing everything that could possibly grow in our climate and combining everything together. It was a lot of fun. When you go to harvest the corn these bright colors pop out at you and explode with color it’s better then Christmas and you get hooked and then you have to do it the next year too!

Now from Taos, to the Flathead, or to Big Timber? …

We lived in the Flathead, and then moved to Big Timber in 1976 and been survival ever since…

Where is Big Timber?

It’s North of Yellowstone in-between Bozeman and Billings.

I’m up in Eureka, in the North By the Canadian border… but I teach on the Blackfeet there, and stay over there during the week and come home on the weekend so I’m familiar with different climates… but the Blackfeet were more nomadic, so they probably didn’t grow much corn?

No, none on record. Lots of times early on in the reservations they were given Mandan corn and told to be farmers, but in NW Montana Reservation that took 15 years, to adapt to Montana’s dry and colder climate… But I think up around Browning it would be way to cold…

and windy, I think the soil would be hard to grow things, although there are a lot of ranchers but mostly I think they grow cows… So then what’s your place like now, do you grow fields with tractors or just a small place for you and your family.

I’ll be 72 years old shortly… I’m single now… The families grown up and gone… I spent so much time breading corn, I have almost no income so I just live in an old trailer, and I have a few small gardens here that I do genetics on and a good friend  across town gives me a pretty good size plot where I can do 2000 plants and hand pollinate all summer and it takes 14 hours a day, I don’t get a break and I’m doing genetics by bringing in genes from around the world.

That land has been sold, I may get one more year to use that, or I may not get one more year, I’ll have to do breeding on a smaller scale.

Then I have 6 famer friends around the state who have develop different lines for me…

They don’t have to do hand pollination…. what I do is I give them seeds for a line I’ve developed that needs more improvement and selection. I give them the best seed I have, they grow them, I show up first day of harvest and spend a week collecting the best ears off the best plants, and I save those to give them seed the following year, and then they harvest the best stuff for family and to sell at farmer’s market Pueblo it’s beautiful and if they have large acreage, grain for animals:

  • turkeys
  • chickens
  • hogs
  • cattle
  • sheep
  • anything.

So it’s really great to have these different friends while I a coming up with different lines I need to do more of that … when I move my genetic lot…

I think my husband has said and you said, a certain variety needs to have a certain distance between them… so how does that work each person gets a different variety?

Sometimes if a grower has property to grow 2 different lines, and has the energy to help me develop 2 different lines, I can have one grower because 2. They really only hav eto be 1/4 mile apart develop because the plants are so similar, there won’t be problem if there is cross pollination. I do have some lines I don’t want other pollen on because I am trying to keep pure for certain trait… the big problem is pollen from others….

We don’t want any GMO pollen growing into our field, when neighbors corn is too close, it’s because sweet corn.

We have the  advantage is that it is cold hardy, so growers can plant it really really early, anywhere between april 15th and may 15th depending on where they live and then it matures very fast, so then it’s usually done, pollinating before neighbors corn starts pollinating…. so that helps make it easier…

I’m not the best science student in the world. You’re growing for different traits, I get the cold weather thing but what are some of the other traits, like hardiness or flavor, you talked about the softness etc. What would you use those harder usually for… 

The harder, starch, the flint varieties is makes better tortillas, starch  it’s gummier, it’s very hard to pulverize, if you grow flint corn, you can’t make soft flour in a grinder at home, don’t have much because but because it binds better, makes better tortillas… 

My soft flour start, people say they make tortillas, but when I’ve tried it falls apart and they’re too fluffy… when professionals make tortillas, they don’t try to grind the hard experience, they soak it and soften it, they grind it into a mush…then make tortillas…

I am converting 2 of my lines into flint corn here’s the reason, some people prefer flint corn. If you live in a wet climate or western coast where it rains a lot, flint corn will

  • last longer in the ground without succumbing to soggy soil…
  • dry faster
  • not mold so easy
  • stores better in a humid climate

Basically all the lines I’m creating look about the same…

but they do better in a different starch….

flint corn survives better

2 of my lines have completely different environment, but I have not been able to test them all over the world, the idea is with some backgrounds…some will have more resistance

no ones paying me to create survival corns that will have genetic backgrounds… The bigest difference is flint ancestry vs flour starch. 

I’ll tell you about 2 lines…both are 1/2 painted mountain

one is crossed with 8k feet new Mexico/colorado rockies. hispanic people have been growing them for usually at that high elevation they have to have fast maturity and cold hardy and desert climate… it’s a completely different environment from that decidedness from indian…. southern corn… it has a years different background

that ancestor is closer to the equator, many people do not live as far away  from the equator as I do so this genetic would have an advantage if you live closer to the equator

there is going to be survival benefits I don’t even know about…

I am doing a similar thing crossing painted variety mountain with eastern

narrow eared corns that come from wetter, I think there are 18 different ancestors that I used… this is a completely different gene pool. I am in the process of concerting these over so they are all flint starch so people will have that option and I am selecting them to be blue, because blue has the antioxidants. I have a a very rare gene for blue kernel that also have a blue germ, which is the heart of the kernel where the nutrients are and if that is blue then you not only get the get more antioxidants when you eat it but all the nutrients, and vitamins, get the protection of the antioxidants right in them. 

They store longer when you grind them into to flour, the antioxidants in the nutrients is going to protect them and the vitamins starch is yellow kernels  that have yellow starch is Vitamin A and the blue kernel outer layer makes kernel looks blue and the hull outer surface would be black….

I’m creating those two lines

North Frontier Foods Black Corn

another project I have is the one Ole Norgaard is growing, It’s the Black corn… I have a really exciting story about that …Ole’s corn is loaded with antioxidants, the pigments in corn…

Indian Corn Bread Corn Pancake Mix

Because I’ve dedicate my life to corn, I don’t have any money and I’m living off my own corn, and the doctors say, I am 15 years younger then my biological age, I attribute that to the corn I’ve been eating my own life, it’s really healthy for you and of course the protein is almost 2xs as nutritious then the regular corn in the store.

I am just curious? Can you  eat it like corn on the cob?

if you pick it the right stage, its gonna be a little bit sweet, really good for you. It’s not gonna have the sugar content, what sweetness it has is gonna lose it if you store it… whereas, modern corn you pick it 3 days later its still sweet. People enjoy eating it fresh off the ear if you pick it right?

Does it matter which one you have?

The flint corn starts getting harder sooner.

But if you ate it the same day, it would be good as corn on the cob…

The Painted Mountain Flour Corn is gonna taste a lot better then flint corn or field corn, the soft flour is more enjoyable.

I’ll tell you about 2 other lines I’m developing…

One is a high protein corn, it probably has the same amount of total protein as  Painted Mountain Corn. There is a gene that causes your corn to have the rare amino acids that usually don’t exist in grains. Most people understand if you don’t have meat,like many people don’t  you can’t just live on grain, you have to eat legumes because they have the amino acids and proteins that cornbread do not have. grains This type of high protein corn I am developing is called floury2. Floury 2 means it has soft flour starch, like Painted cornbread has the Flour1 gene… so this high protein corn could be ground into a soft flour, the same as  Painted Mountain Corn but it has the rare amino acids,

  • Lysine
  • Tryptophan
  • Methionine

So you are going to get  a very good balance of amino acids. I don’t recommend anyone in the world live on only one food, but there are many starving people around the world who do only have grain and fi they only have corn, and it has all the amino acids, it’s much healthier if they have only have corn if they do not have legumes Tryptophan. That’s a big project of mine, I’ve been working on these projects for a long time, many years, it takes a long time to available and to move to Montana… 

painted mountain corn

The other things is it has a short fast maturing plants that are not good for machine harvest

when people grow acres and acres and acres of corn

  • has to be tall
  • everything has to mature at the same time

you can’t have soft cobs that are underdeveloped going into the harvest or they will rot everything else. … My corn has not been perfected for machine harvest, it;s still  a hand harvest corn

That’s better anyway….

it’s not been developed.

Mountain That’s anyway for small farms and our planet?

Well these huge plants that are better then you are, thick stalks that stand up to machine harvesst are just sucking top soil off the ground

Native corn is small efficient plants and  do much less damage

most people hand harvest efficient,

My high protein corn,

anyway a machine harvestable line of corn

I got the ancestors from research experiment stations from

  • North Dakota
  • Canada
  • Poland

So they are small efficient stalks, they could be machine harvested so people could grow this high protein corn on the large scale.

I am also crossing with Ole’s black corn… so that Ole’s corn will stand up better for machine harvest some day and it will have both

  • high antioxidants of the black corn


  • the high protein of the floury2 corn…

I have one more project…

Corn bores

Corn bores, are a worm, moth that is a larva that will bore into corn and could destroy thousands of acres in a few months, Monsanto has given us a corn bore resistant cron that is genetically modified… has the BT gene that is a toxin that kills the bore when it eats the corn.  Scientists in Europe believe that they have proven that this corn with the toxin in it is actually poisoning us. We are not allowed to test that in America… Monsanto has the rights to evaluate their own product and they told us it is safe.

If it ever turns out that Monsanto GMO corn is unsafe, the world is going to need a bore resistent corn that is safe. The people at University of Nebraska found a corn in Mexico that is naturally resistant to bores. They cross bred it to modern American corn. A partner of mine, Frank Kuka was at Cornell University in NY at the time and he got that bore resistant corn and crossed it with the Painted Mountain, they ran it through a  series of tests atCornell where they innoculated the corn bores and then gave me the seeds that are resistant. I have been breading that here every other year, self pollinating and selecting it for survivability  in Montana, because corn from Mexico does not grow in Montana… we have to keep working to find ones that are resistant to the corn bore and also that survives in Montana. 

Also, another project of mine, so I will be looking for people who want to take on these projects as I retire and lose access to the land. I am basically completing all the complicated of hand breeding, I am doing all the hard work, nobody has to do anymore complicated work and I am selecting the best lines and putting them in the hands of people around the world. That is happening. They are being grown by indigenous people where they.

I guess I have to go with a basic question… why do you have to hand pollinate?

Why do I hand had pollinate?

If you just turn corn loose in the field and let it blow around you’ll get wonderful combinations. You won’t get any 2 that have the same genetics. In order to tell which ones are improving … that’s a whole lot of fun but that’s kind of wild. But if you want to make more specific progress you take your best plants and self pollinate them. Native corn is filled with defects and genes you don’t want, so if you want to improve your line, the more plants you can self pollinate the better because 90% of the chldren will have a double shot of some gene you don’t like and only1 out of 10 will have the good genes. So the more you self-pollinate the more you are able to identify the plants that  have the good genes, so that’s a way to move forward.. 

My painted mountain would be much more primitive today with more flaws and defects if I had not spend 45 years hand pollinate it and selecting the best. Then another… in my home garden plot whereI do the hand pollinating the majority of my plants. I’d say 

  • 60% are self pollinated
  • 40% I’m actually making crosses

I’ll have a plant that has branded that is a brand new discovery that gives you antioxidants but it’s not the bet plant in the world, so I put that into the best plants  trying to bring that gene into my popluation.

When we are crossbreeding to the antioxidants Mexican corn that has the bore resistance, you can’t just turn that loose in the field, if you put it on the Painted Mountain corn carefully then you know you have children one of each parent

The way you do it, corn is the most amazing plant to work with, it’s so easy I feel like I’m cheating. The male pollen is  on the top part of the tassel and the female is on the cob. So you can put a bag over the developing ear and protect it from getting any pollen.

I was wondering how you keep bees etc from polinating?

You buy these little white paper bags, look like you would put a corn dog in, when the little baby ear is just first showing, silk is showing, protect the developing ear, then you have a choice to go out and put whatever pollen you want, whether you pollinate it from itself or another plant it’s still the same procedeure….

There are different ways to do it,

  • take a tassle branch and break that off and rub it on the silk and cover it up again 
  • shake the pollen into the bag, and then poor that over the silk,
  • when I do, use a brush for a group pollination

I usually pollinate specific plants, but sometimes I’ll have a whole population that I want to collect pollen from maybe 30 plants so I go around with a larger paper bag, shake the tassels, get a good collection of yellow pollen in the bottom of a bag and then I p our the into a plastic cup, then I have a camel hair makeup brush and dip it into the cup of pollen and dust it onto the silk of every plant I want to cross it with.

No wonder it takes you 14 hours a day… probably a lot of ears in each crop. 

Corn is so close to the ground, have to bend over, so that’s hard on your back after 14 hours. It doesn’t even feel good to stand up, its so satisfying… I can’t do stuff with my friends, because I have to pollinate corn but I feel wonderful

I think that what I am doing is going to be really important, that can withstand poor soil and bad weather conditions, I think this  is critical. I get letters from people all around the world calling me a hero, people who couldn’t grow food… 

So I show up at my fields in the morning and I have a Hopi Indian flute play a simple melody and watch and feel the sound penetrate everythhig around there. It’s a beautiful way to start the day.

We need to write a children’s book about you.

Let’s get to the root of things.

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden?

Bindweed, pulling up bindweed, have really bad weeds, roots that go very deep but you can never kill them, but you have to slow them down or they really take over. 

I have a tool used for asparagus, somehow. It’s like a long screw driver with a flat end, it’s forked, push that down to the ground and get the roots as much as you can. That slows you down. If you buy one, get one that has really hard steel….

What’s your soil like?

I’m in Big Timber. I grow most of my corn at Bob Quinn’s in Big Sandy. 

You’ll probably follow up right before Bob Quinn, his will air on Thursdya, he’s one of my favoirt e interview. 

I spend a couple of months up there in fall, my soil is 60% rock, I spent most of my life hauling rocks. IT’s just a hard clay. I think all the places in Montana that I grow corn, there’s only 2% organic matter in the soil. Back east, commercial corn that they sell has it’s origins on the East Coast. Where there is 6 feet of hummus. Out west in Sagebrush country

  • 2%
  • low nitrogen
  • alkali soil
  • we have arid climate
  • very little rainfall

There’s no corn in the world that will endure dry land farming without water likePainted Mountain. But it’s a tough soil, actually, in some of my places I have grown it without manure becuase I want corn that will grow in the tough places in the world, many people are growing in played out soil. I think it’s beautiful that people do all of these wonderful things to improve soil. But I am a breeder more then a farmer, I want to develop a seed that has the ability to produce their own nutrients, under difficult situations. So I have stressed my corn out form day one, so I don’t add manure until I produce a seed that is so week that it is not producing anything.

The land Cassandra Mitchell is letting me use her land in Big Timber, that just sold, I have taken good care  and put truckloads of manure on it, but we can grow wonderful Painted Mountain corn it’s surprising the huge cobs you can get!

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden.

The truth is the satisfaction is knowing what I am doing is important. For physical activity it would be harvesting because  every year is like Christmas… you see color combinations that are amazing! Especially Bob Quinn has 2 acres, you’ll see things you never saw before. It’s big into color!

See it will be a beaitufl bookI can see it already!

This is exciting!

What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

Nobody knows about breeders, everybody want’s locally adapted seeds, people loves the idea of heirloom seeds, everybody wants to beorgainc.

Herioloom seeds dissappered becuase they werent productive or they didn’t taste good or seomthing…and they were’nt developed…

In the 1980s Seed savers started, that excited a lot of people about saving old time heirloom seeds…

I wrote an article for the, aying this is wonderful but we’re not gonna save the world by saving seeds because somebody has to do some breeding. I worte an article aboutPainted Moutning seed….I was exciting other people to do that, I got invited all over the nation at the beginning of the savealbe seed movement…

A lot of people contributed a lot of things to my movement my job is to excite people about breeding these crops and …

So the best advice I got along the way… is when you’re introducing a new line into or population

somebody saved some seeds from an indian tribe, they had adapted to difficult situations. That’s something you like to combine it to your corn… You don’t want to just  turn it loose… lots of people doing it, its’ kind of a bad, let 12 strains of corn and let them mix

take a new line

de-developing it,

observe it, a couple of ears a re good

take the ones that are good and breed it from them. I will self-pollinate for the nexxt frew years, then turn them loose into the population, keep doing that… throw in some more new traits.

So if you just take a primitive lined intermix it you are bringing in a bunch of bad so don’t just mix anything up….

This is great advice, I love the way youre so scientific and methodical about it. We’re gonna talk next week about how to be scientists.

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.

Hoe, cause I’m always going all summer long. Iplant my corn far enough apart that I can take a rototiller down it, when you have a lot of going to do it can take forever and a rototiller goes a lot faster.

You can take a rototiller through your corn? Doesn’t it have to be grown through a block? That’s what I was gonna say, Mike read that article or some article about you. Maybe in Organic Gardening magazine or the Montanan.

The reason you plant corn in a block is so everything will get pollinated, if you plant it in a long row, if a wind comes up the plan blows away

if you pant it in a block… if your neighbors have pollen, youre likely to get more of the kernels polinated… 

I plant in rows, most people pant in rows, my rows are 42 inches apart and my rototiller can go right in-between them and stay 7 inches away… rototiller will not get close to them…. or if you have bindweed you have to use your little asparagus tool and bend down and break your back…

A favorite internet resource?

No. there’s some really cool youtubes. There’s these people at people sustainable seed with a youtube video on how to grind corn into flour

He says look at this painted moutain corn how fluffy and soft!

If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?

I do 10 months out of the year, I work for advancement. That includes winter time, I’m hand selecting seeds for planting. But I have to make some money, at Bob Quinn’s I grow 2 acres of painted mountain… that’s sold all over mostly to the big seed companies… largely for ornamental corn… but some people buy it for food.

Business advice, it took a long time to build up really, you have to… They want you to have a dependable crop is tough if you have a bad year… a drought or the blackbirds get it… you have to have customers who are willing to put up with a small crop or none one year

when you get large-scale on corn it take sa lot of equipment… be able to dry pounds of pounds of corn…. Ole made an ingenious dry.Painted Mountain  is probalby the biggest selling ornamentla. It took a lot of time to get there, it’s so easy to have something wipe out your crop…. it’s really hard and really vulnerable. There’s a saying a farmer lucky to make a profit 1 year out of 10… several years, I’ve lost almost everything. It’ not easy to eek out a living

2 acres isn ‘t that big …. you can’t do that with a machine can you?

going big on business corn

fences to keep the

have to do it by hand

hard to get a crew, I end up doing a lot of it by myself, young people …  it sounds really fun… they get out ther eand then after an n hour they think I have something else to do… you offer more money… no I have more to do… 

hard to stoop… after short efficient stress hardy plants

average 4 1/2 feet tall

indian corn

  • originally were coming right out of the ground
  • don’t blow over in the wind
  • more protected
  • easy to grab something

So I made plants taller and stronger…

Remindes me of picking greene beans, I always think there tought… down on the gorund…

For business advice

It’s really a lot of work and dedication to make a living off one crop corn anyway so unless you could give your entire life and long hours, I would say that it would be better as a supplemental income…

Final question- if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

First part, yes, I am breeding this corn to be a solution for the world, because corn is just a huge, huge crop and the way it’s being grown now its sucking life right out of the top soil and it’s destroying our top soil. When we send food aid, corn around to starving nations, I’ve tested that stuff and it has only like 8% protein, and my painted mountain is  closer to 12-14% protein. So we’re feeding people and starving them. 

I’ll give you a real life example. We sent corn to Siberia…I’m gonna round off numbers to make it easy… their mountain corn produced 115 bushels/acres and the painted mountain corn produced 100/acres. … the painted mountain corn has a lot of genetic diversity… some did good some bad, the second year, Painted Mountain corn, 126 bushels/acres the commercial corn went down to 40 bushels/acre becauase it’s a hybrid… If you give them the commmerical corn they would have to keep buying it…

When I give a country Painted Mountain corn they can multiply it and give it to their neighbors… never have to buy another kernel… keeps adapting more and more… I am doing this as a way to give yes a way to feed themselves, so they don’t have to keep supporting big industry and their crops will not demolish the soil.

What do I see happening?

I have experienced huge global warming in my life since the year 2000, a lot of problems for the future… a lot faster then they predicted…

when I first started growing corn in Montana getting it from Andes, with cold hardy genes.. about the year 2000

  • hotter summers
  • heat tolerance has become really important
  • my cold tolerant foundation is still very valuable

people are write that it endures frosts and freezes and dies off and comes back. It’s really tought.

faster you can get it in the ground the better

  • not vulnerable to birds
  • quick maturity
  • aided by an early season 
  • cold tolerant
  • drought 
  • heat hardy tolerant

so, Ive watched climate changing

used to have 90 days

plant June first see a frost, and harvest by Sept 1st because it would freeze solid and die. Now I cant plant first of may or earlier and don’t have to harvest in October! Before we get a solid freeze a lot of years… our growing season is 2 months longer! That is a huge change

Ither farmers are changing corps to deal with increasing heat and drought… Some places there’s more rain… around here the rains been steady but many years it has not rained in the summer when the corn needs it. 

  • horrid hail storms
  • 6 different counties
  • ping pong ball hail storms

never seen anything like that! It’s nuts! THe climate is changing

  • have to get the crops in and out faster of ground
  • have disease tolerance
  • people diseases in southern parts of the world where things are moister as things get north get warmer

And the bugs, I think that’s why those terees over by helena are dying off the bugs aren’t dying off, if we don’t get the cold weather to kill them in the iwnter…

If you listen to the news… the fossil fuel companies are putting so much money into publicity into saying we don’t have to worry about politicians have been bought out by them… the political system is my big fear in fixing climate change…were not having much luck in stopping it.. .and we’re not the only ones…big ag is breeding things for changing…

I just have to ask… do you hae anything to say about the Lakota Soiux trying to shut down the pipeline? It doen’t actually run on their reservation but it runs where their water is… so if there wa sa leak it would dsetroy their water supplies… they were showing videos this weekend on the news it was wierd attacking them with dogs… they’re just trying to prevent the piepeline from grwoing through to save the water for their children…

I’ve lived long enough and heard so many things about … this is not going to leak into your water supply or this nuclear plant won’t leak …I’ve heard so many promises and leaks… we have so many contaminated water supplies…we can’t take much more of this…

How do we connect with you if they want to connect about a project or they had some land?

Best thing would be to call me on the telephone


also can email me buckskin@mtintouch.net!

I love help people… I love to hear how people did for their climate… how it worked how can I change things for them… adapting for their specific weather needs… teach people how to select…

You talked about my website, it disappeared for several years it’s a little out of date but it still has enough info to inspire you www. seedweneed.com.

Is that where they go to order seeds from?

No just google Painted Mountain corn there are many companies selling it. They are listed on the website too. I spend hours and hours on genetics, I just don’t have time to keep track of many and mailing…

if you are interested in a large amount… maybe 50 lbs maybe even 10 lbs… you could call me. I can’t handle all the mail orders… and I’m not good at that… I’ll get it all messed up.

Thanks so much for inspiring all of us to make a change and yo’ve spent so much time helping the world!

OK, I thought of my ending quote: Don’t forget the fun factor!!!

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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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