Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Wall-to-Wall Carpet of Corn in Lancaster County

In Lancaster County, early Spring brings the start of the race—to see which farmer will produce the first sweet corn of Summer. They carefully plant their seedlings under plastic for warmth, and you can watch the plants progress as they slowly begin their climb to the sky.

Then one day, as you’re driving through the countryside, you realize that those seedlings have become a wall of corn stalks at every turn in the road. Where there were once broad vistas of farms in the distance, all you can see are green leaves swaying in the breeze. On a windy day they are not unlike ocean waves riding a current of air as the wind blows across the fields. The plants fill in every little space between farms, silos and towns. The carpet of green is broken only by the yellow of the hay being harvested, or by lighter green shades of other crops.

The plants bring a beauty all their own to your senses. This is a “green” so true that no man-made version can rival it. It’s the smell of summer that you’ll remember in the winter. Take a moment to drink in the color, hear the sound of the leaves swaying, see the crowning glory of the tassels of silk, and...just wait until you taste the stuff.

I had always heard that corn should be “knee high by the Fourth of July” but, here in Lancaster County, we are well into enjoying our second week of sweet corn by the Fourth. And sweet it is – farmers will boast that one variety is better than the next, with new hybrids being introduced each year. Rows are marked with signs and farmers can be seen walking through the fields, comparing one variety to another.

You can tell a lot by looking at corn. When it is happy the leaves splay open and dance in the wind. When it is too dry, they curl and reach toward the sky, beckoning it to send down moisture

Our farmers mostly plant feed corn, but there is more than enough sweet corn – and dozens of farm stands burst with the sweetest vegetable ever produced.

This does not go unnoticed by your Authentic Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers – they use the freshest ingredients to create corn pancakes, corn muffins, corn pudding, corn crepes, corn frittatas, corn bread and corn in every conceivable way. 

The time to visit the corn is now – one of the best tastes of summer. There’s a farm on Route 772 where guests recently stopped for fresh roasted corn – eating a dozen ears between them. Be sure to also try local relishes, chow-chows and experience our corn mazes.

Take the time to notice the magic of our corn. And, if you are quiet, rumor has it that you will hear it grow.

Written by Jan Garrabrandt, The Artist's Inn & Gallery