We sourced our seeds this year from Irish Eyes Seed Co. in Ellensberg, which is within our local zone. I ordered a whole bunch of random stuff including Painted Mountain Flour Corn. I planted it and sort of left it to its own devices. It looked pretty feeble so I figured it was a lost crop but when I went to clean up the garden I discovered dazzling treasures hiding in the dull husks. Our cobs don't look quite as good as those pictured above, and we didn't get any blue ones, but they are pretty spectacular.
It turns out there is a quite a story behind this variety of corn. Go here for the fascinating tale of Dave Christensen working to save an endangered gene pool of corn varieties that thrive in tough northern conditions. Go here for a powerpoint presentation with lots of pictures. It is a real life's work.
It's estimated that up to 75% of crop diversity has been lost over the last 100 years. A rich pool of genetic material that took millenia to develop and adapt is endangered by our industrial food production. Go here for info on the Seed Savers Exchange. Go here for the story on Norway's Doomsday seed vault, created to save the genetic diversity of plants.
No doomsday seed vault for us. We're going to grind up our corn tomorrow to make some flour.