Indian Corn Harvest 2020

by Ally Karsyn

About 25 producers grew nearly 20 acres of Indian corn. Community members recently gathered to help process this year’s harvest.

The corn was handpicked, husked, then blanched in large pots over the new fire pit by Village Market. Once cooled, the kernels were spooned off the cobs and sun dried on screens.

This activity extended over multiple days and involved our employees, plus students from the Winnebago Public School, local families and anyone else who wanted to get involved.

Just a few years ago, the cultivation of Indian corn was being kept alive by a few families and a small group of Catholic nuns in Winnebago.

Few Native community members understood the traditional food practice, and those who did know about it had trouble finding seed. It looked like another piece of Winnebago history and culture was about to be lost.

And then – a kernel of hope.

Ho-Chunk Farms, our agricultural division, began providing resources to help families and community groups grow their own Indian corn.

The revitalization project, created in partnership with the Winnebago Tribe and local organizations, started with three producers and 1.5 acres in 2017.

In recent years, there have been ongoing efforts for the Winnebago people – who once lived as hunters and gatherers – to reclaim power over how and where they get their food.

The importance of food sovereignty has only heightened during the pandemic.

Ho-Chunk Farms, the Winnebago Tribe and community partners continue to work together to encourage community members to grow their own food and eat healthier. Other projects include planting over 200 raised bed gardens and opening a farmers market.

The Indian corn can be purchased from the SweetGrass website.