Corn shocker! Artist planted common grain, not Indian variety, on Smith

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Boerum Hill’s corn is not as a-maize-ing as first thought, the artist responsible for the crop admitted this week.

In a startling mea culpa, Christina Kelly revealed that she intentionally planted common corn at the corner of Smith and Bergen streets instead of the rare Lenape blue flour corn she planted at a sister garden in Canarsie.

The root of the matter came down to trust.

“I really thought the Boerum Hill garden would be vandalized — that someone might take a plant,” she said. “But nothing’s happened. I’m amazed.”

Instead of planting ultra-rare corn — as she did in a less trafficked area at East 92nd Street and Avenue N — Kelly planted a less rare variety of blue flour corn in Boerum Hill.

“It’s not that I think the people of Boerum Hill are bad — it’s just the nature of the city,” she said.

The Boerum Hill plot stands in an area cultivated by the Marechkawich Indians in the 17th century, and apparently our forebears knew what they were doing when they picked this spot.

Boerum Hill’s corn continues to far outpace Canarsie’s crop. The stalks have already clambered to three-and-a-half feet tall, and show no signs of slowing down, while Canarsie’s corn is about a foot shorter.

Kelly said the growth differential is likely a product of the sunlight each plot receives: The Boerum Hill plot soaks up to 12 hours a day, while the Canarsie plot only gets about eight hours, because it is shielded by a school.

Regardless, with enough peat moss, chicken compost, tender loving care and no vandalism, Kelly expects both plots to mature by the end of August.

But then, she will face her biggest challenge yet: hungry squirrels. Stay tuned …

To learn more about the project, go to www.brooklynmaize.org.

Updated 2:30 pm, October 19, 2011
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