A History of Bayou Cora Farms Heirloom Corn
The story of Bayou Cora Farms heirloom corn began not long after the Civil War. James Phillip Lipscomb came to Baldwin County, Alabama in 1875 and brought with him a corn variety from Marengo County, Alabama. He settled in what is now the Vernant Park Community just outside of Magnolia Springs. There he established a farm and began to plant the corn. Over several years, he built up a seed stock and was soon able to plant several acres. Some of the corn was used for eating during the milk stage, as many people did with field or sweet corn, but the majority of each year’s crop was dried and used for cattle feed. This heirloom variety, commonly known as “Indian Corn”, only changes into its multitude of red, yellow, orange, purple, and blue colors, after it begins to dry.
James Lipscomb grew the corn until the year he died in 1933 at the age of 80. James’ grandson, Ira Lipscomb, saved some of the corn from his grandfather and continued to grow the corn along with his six sons Lawrence, Edward, Claude, Sheldon, Oswalt, and Albert. Like his grandfather, Ira grew the corn until his death in 1979. Over the next eight years, the Lipscomb brothers grew the corn. But sadly in 1987, when the agriculture industry slowed, and many farmers had do downsize or get out of farming completely, the last two brothers farming full time, Sheldon and Oswalt, decided to trim production and stopped planting their family corn.
One brother, Claude, decided to set aside a little of the corn, not much more than 1 pound, in an old barn freezer. There the corn stayed for 24 years until 2011 when Edward, Claude, and Sheldon pulled out that old heirloom corn which they called “Grandpa Jimmy’s” corn, and decided to revive it. Each brother planted only a handful, with Sheldon planting only 98 kernels. For the next three years they brought back the old family corn, with each year’s crop slightly bigger than the last. In spring of 2015, Sheldon planted 5 acres of the family corn, not quite knowing what he would do with the harvest. However, the brothers always had an idea that perhaps that old corn could be used for milling into cornmeal.
Sheldon’s grandsons, Josh and Jarred Higginbotham ground some of the corn into cornmeal, and Sheldon’s wife Betsy made several recipes including cornbread. They soon discovered that the meal had a very unique, natural and flavorful taste.
After a trip to the local farmers market in July of 2015, and a sell out on the first day, Josh and Jarred quickly realized that the cornmeal fit right in with the interest for local and heirloom products. This lead to Bayou Cora Farms Heirloom Corn Products, which now includes grits, corn flour, and fish fry, along with the cornmeal.
From 1875, and six generations later, this non-gmo heirloom corn variety is being brought back to abundance in Baldwin County Alabama and shared in a way for all to appreciate and enjoy.