• Editor's Note Winter 2017

    Editor's Note Winter 2017

    “If you’re going to Québec City, you have to visit a cabane à sucre,” said Claire. And her good advice was confirmed as soon as my partner and I walked into Cabane à Sucre Leclerc in Neuville on a chilly, snowy evening.

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  • Set the Table with Poutine

    Set the Table with Poutine

    I grew up in California, in a world of dayboat salmon, tofu, and spinach salad. I only became vaguely aware of the odd sounding “poutine” when I moved to Vermont. French fries with gravy and cheese curds? I mean, that all sounds weird enough without including the word “curds” at the end.

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  • Along the Route des Vins

    Along the Route des Vins

    In the first unpredictable weeks of spring, workers at Québec’s Léon Courville vineyard lay the bones of 1,200 tiny bonfires between the vines.

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  • So Close And Yet So Far

    So Close And Yet So Far

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  • Au Marché

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    On a sunny, crisp day in early September, a friend and I meandered over the border to visit three Québec farmers’ markets.

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  • Neighbors to the North—Of Loaves and Land

    Neighbors to the North—Of Loaves and Land

    Every week at Red Hen Baking Company in Middlesex, six tons of flour is mixed, kneaded, and transformed into 18,000 loaves of bread.

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  • Neighbors to the North—Seeding Relationships

    Neighbors to the North—Seeding Relationships

    Some 20 years ago, when Tom Stearns of High Mowing Seeds was living in Holland, Vermont, just on the border with Québec, he met Laurier Chabot at a biodynamic agriculture conference.

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  • Neighbors to the North—A Vintner Mentor

    Neighbors to the North—A Vintner Mentor

    When David and Linda Boyden started Boyden Valley Winery in Cambridge in 1996, they had zero experience in viticulture or oenology, save for a class that David had taken at Cornell University.

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  • Neighbors to the North—A Plethora of Produce

    Neighbors to the North—A Plethora of Produce

    Imagine two Caesar salads: Both are tossed in that classic salty dressing and topped with croutons, tomatoes, and parmesan cheese. And both salads have, as their base, crisp and crunchy romaine lettuce.

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  • Neighbors to the North—Fields  of  Gold

    Neighbors to the North—Fields of Gold

    Jack Lazor called me at 8:00 p.m. the other night, which surprised me. I’m used to dairy farmer hours, and 8:00 p.m is past bedtime for most dairymen and women I’ve known.

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  • Neighbors to the North—A Porcine Quest

    Neighbors to the North—A Porcine Quest

    Vermont Salumi, a small company making fresh sausages and hand-tied salami in the Italian tradition, is based just outside Plainfield.

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  • To Market, to Bank

    To Market, to Bank

    Québecois grower Jean-Martin Fortier draws a distinction between a good living and a good life.  “’A good living’ mostly refers to how much money you make,” he tells me during a phone call. A good life, in contrast, takes into account “how your time is spent, and to what purpose.”

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  • Last Morsel—My Family’s French Canadian Kitchen

    Last Morsel—My Family’s French Canadian Kitchen

    Whenever I catch a whiff of cinnamon or cloves, my mind drifts to my mother’s kitchen and the French Canadian food traditions that shaped how I learned to cook.

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Farmers' Kitchen—Singing River Farm’s Flint Corn Cornbread

Farmers' Kitchen—Singing River Farm’s Flint Corn Cornbread
Laurel Green and Steve Crofter

Written on

August 16 , 2017

As farmers, we try to hold a perspective that we are only the current stewards of land that has been, and will be, cared for by a continuum of people for millennia before and after us. Growing flint corn and saving its seed each year helps us maintain that perspective. The variety we cultivate here at Singing River Farm is Roy’s Calais Abenaki flint corn. The name itself reminds us of the history of the humans that have tended this cultivar—European-heritage Vermont farmers like Roy and Ruth Fair of North Calais, as well as the countless individuals of the Sokoki band of the western Abenaki that have lived here for thousands of years and continue to live in this region.

Kernels of corn have a hard outer layer covering the softer flour endosperm within. Flint corns have a higher proportion of that hard “flinty” layer than do flour corns or dent corns. This characteristic contributes to the hardiness of flint corn. Because the flint layer contains less moisture than the flour layer, flint corn lasts longer in storage and can better withstand freezing. According to legend, Abenaki flint corn was the only variety to survive in Vermont in 1816, the year without a summer, and we imagine more than one Vermonter kept starvation at bay by relying on it as a major food source.

The corn we grow is beautiful as well as hardy. The kernels come in two colors: a golden yellow and a deep maroon. The colors are not mixed on individual ears, but rather each ear is either fully yellow or red. The red comes from a recessive gene, so approximately one-third of the ears have that color. We sort out the red ears and grind their kernels separately for the aesthetic enjoyment. But because the red color is only in the pericarp, the thin paper-like covering of the kernels, the difference between our yellow and red cornmeal is quite subtle, and small red flecks are the only distinguishing feature.

Grinding the cornmeal is hard work, but satisfying. We have a hand-powered Diamant mill, a massive cast-iron tool made in Poland with old-world quality built in. Although it’s heavy to move, we have hauled it to farmers’ markets and it’s an attraction that many people, especially children, can’t resist. To watch corn go from ears, to a handful of kernels, to fresh cornmeal in a matter of minutes is a minor miracle, and the sense of awe is enhanced by the effort of arm muscles.

Laurel Green and Steve Crofter live at Singing River Farm, which overlooks Sokoki Falls at Brockways Mills in Rockingham, VT. Laurel supplies much of their annual carbohydrate needs through growing flint corn, dried beans, and winter squash, and sells field-grown pansies and specialty cut flowers. Steve focuses on giant pumpkins and the farm’s social justice goals, including providing a safe haven for asylum seekers through the Community Asylum Seekers Project. Look for Singing River Farm on Facebook.

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Home Stories Issues 2017 Fall '17 | Issue forty-two Farmers' Kitchen—Singing River Farm’s Flint Corn Cornbread