rare Italian maize seed collection

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Rare Italian polenta corns

Growing up I never had polenta, we had mush.  Mush I thought for a very long time was a Pennsylvania German tradition. Turns out it's Native American and acculturated by my family (PA German) when they came to this land.

Welschkann (Welschhinkel- my favorite PA German word means- strange chicken.) Welschkann means strange grain, corn is an old English word for the size of something. (Corn beefed hash- yeah no yellow stuff) My Grandpop Haas made scrapple and mush. The mush we would eat as he was making it. Warm, mash potato-like side that we would fight over because we were not allowed to eat lots of because it was destined to the pan. In the pan, it would cool in the refrigerator over night and then be sliced and fried in a skillet and eaten with maple syrup as scrapple was.

Then I had a braised lamb neck over cheese polenta and my life changed. I did a deep dive into polenta, grits, mush, and porridge and came out the other end growing 10+ of the rarest maizes from the piedmont of Italy. Turns out some guy went to the piedmont in the ’50s, collected a bunch of corn that had been grown there since it back with Columbus. In the ’70s ’90s and 2000’s people have followed this path again to see which maize’s were still being grown.

From the piedmont of Italy to the piedmont of North America we grow, dried, ground, and cooked as many as we could get.

These are the best of what we found.

Now you can grow your own and experience the full flavors of these wonderful maize’s. We plant maize here in mid-April, and it is more than knee-high in July

And then deepening on the weather we will harvest from late September to mid-October. Once the corn is fully dry it is husked and shelled, we only grind it, as it is needed so that the polenta maintains all of its oils and perfumes.


Bergamasco is a big bold traditional maize of the piedmont; it is dent corn and is thought to have some modernish genes in it since dent corns did not get to this part of Italy till around the big war.  Not much information is available about this maize. But let me tell you it is amazing. Sturdy plants grow to between 10-12 tall and will have one to two ears per plant.


Nostrano agostinello is a semi beaked varietal, Beaked corns come to a point at the end of each kernel. This is deep red on the cob, mixed with bits of purple/red here and there. The cobs are conical and most ears have a bit of unfertile tassel growing out of their tip. Kernels are difficult to remove from the cob and the cob without seed is sharp to the touch


Rostrato O denta cane Piedmontese - I got Otto File a few years ago from a disappointed ex-employee of the Stone Barn I grow it and it was really great, but then I got this corn, and it was all over for Otto. This is orange beaked corn that grinds into one of the best polentas you will ever make. The stalks are only 6-7’ and one ear per stalk.


Rostrato Bianca – Is white-beaked maize (Rostrato Bianca translates to beaked white) the ear is larger than most other maize’s from on stalks that can grow 12’+

The polenta is smooth and creamy and fills our house with the most amazing aromas, and that was with just water, no stock or cheese. (I do recommend using stock and cheese!!!)

twenty seeds of each.