Sowing and Sharing Heirloom Seeds: The Harvest
STILWELL – Cherokee Nation citizen and heirloom seed recipient Natalie Yeager first received her White Eagle Corn seeds in March and allowed the Cherokee Phoenix to follow along on her journey during the growing season.
Yeager said the journey from seed to harvest with White Eagle Corn as “enlightening,” and has enjoyed every step of the process.
“I have learned a lot about growing corn flour. I’ve grown other types of just sweet corn and this one’s been fun because I feel like I have a really deep connection with just knowing that my ancestors ate this and survived on this corn,” she said.
Yeager has also made notes of things to do differently for the next season.
“There are some things that I would do a little bit differently with growing this corn next time. I am saving seeds for it. I am a seed saver by heart. I love that,” she said. “So next time I would probably plant this corn a little bit later. I felt like I ran into some pest problems with some caterpillars. If I would have waited a little longer and made it a fall crop, then I think I would have been a little bit more happier with my harvest.”
Yeager has harvested her crop of White Eagle Corn and plans to allow it to dry completely on the cob before grinding the corn to make cornmeal.
“We picked the corn and will let it dry for six to eight weeks. Once it’s dry I’ll take it off the cobbs and then we’ll go from there” she said.
As this journey with White Eagle Corn has allowed her to connect on a deeper level with her Cherokee heritage, Yeager now has a desire to learn more about Cherokee food sources that can be grown or foraged.
“All this kind of research has just made me super interested and kind of like brought me back to the roots of my heritage. It just makes me want to research even more. It makes me want to discover more about what things are out here all around us that our Cherokee ancestors used as a food supply.”