Harvest in Nebraska
This is a quick story of where our corn comes from.
Four years ago Quinn Popcorn was an idea that would have never been realized if we couldn’t find the right partners. Kristy spent the first year of Quinn Popcorn in her attic, Quinn in lap, and phone to ear. She was talking to everyone in our food system, trying to pull together all the pieces needed to make microwave popcorn in an entirely different way. Corn was a linchpin. It was a time of 99% dead ends.
One of those calls was to Grain Place Foods. Dave, the owner, took Kristy’s call and over the next few weeks they talked corn and organic farming for hours. On our way to visiting Grain Place Foods we admitted to our expectations. Family run, deep passion for farming and food, and happy people doing their life’s work. What we found when we got there was…exactly that.
Grain Place Foods is located in Marquette Nebraska, right in the middle of the corn belt. Our last drive into the heartland was just at the end of harvest and we actually brought a camera this time. For someone from the Northeast, the drive out is otherworldly and staggeringly beautiful. So much sky.
And yes, we got a husk sticker up there. Can you find it?
Grain Place is both a 200 acre organic farm and organic grain supplier. The grains they don’t grow are primarily sourced from regional organic farms.
Grain Place started with Dave’s father, Don. He began experimenting with organic growing practices in the mid 1950’s and by 1978 the farm was certified organic. Don still goes to work at Grain Place everyday. He’s 94 years old.
The fields are rotated on a 9 year schedule that provides the right nutrients for each years crop. Turnips are in the middle and popcorn is grown year 9. With generations of experience and a degree in agronomy, Dave’s explanation of the science behind the rotation is well over our heads.
Kristy and Dave in front of a corn field. There’s a few weeds in there, but without Roundup or other herbicides it’s just part of organic farming. The monarch butterflies need the milkweed, so they don’t mind…
Corn and other grains are held in silos. Before it can go into our boxes the popcorn actually needs some conditioning time for the moisture levels to even out.
Pigs take care of the grains and scraps that are not for market.
Inside the facility is a mixture of old and new. One of those seed cleaners is 50 years older than the other. Neither are close to new, but everything is spotless.
Our popcorn bags are filled on a line operated by 6 people working at full speed. It’s about 50% machine and 50% people.
Grain Place is exactly in line with our values. We are lucky we found them and we are honored to work with them. Across all of our products we use roughly 30 different ingredients and each one has a great story that we need to tell. Stay tuned!
You don’t have to buy our popcorn to support Grain Place Foods. Next time you buy rolled oats from Whole Foods take a really close look. If the oats have grooves in them then the’re from Grain Place and were rolled on a one of kind toaster that Dave built. You can also purchase directly from them HERE.