On this episode of The Foodpreneur, we’re talking 300 year old heirloom popcorn with Farmer Gene, founder of Tiny But Mighty Popcorn. Hear the fascinating story of how a 3rd generation farmer turned a passion for organic farming and nutrient-rich soil into one of the top popcorn brands in America!
Episode 15: Tiny But Mighty Popcorn w/ Farmer Gene
Time Stamped Show Notes
- [1:21] — Gene is a third generation Mid-western farmer. Gene’s earliest memory of being around food was when his mother would make him work in the vegetable garden from 8-11am. After his work his mother would allow him to “hang out at the pool all afternoon.” Gene’s family grew all of their own food for their meals.
- [3:01] — The first thing Gene did after his honeymoon was buy a box of Coco Puffs because he was never allowed to eat them on the farm growing in Iowa.
- [4:40] — The outdoors and nature has always intrigued Gene.
- [7:54] — Gene tells us how he was first introduced to heirloom corn varieties.
- [10:23] — At a food expo in California, Gene discovered that his corn seed was nearly 300 years old.
- [11:47] — Gene tells us what makes a seed “heirloom.” “A seed that is at least 50 years old that has been saved by itself to regrow every year, they are usually open pollinated seeds without parent seeds allowing them to be regenerated by themselves each year.”
- [15:10] — Gene describes the operations and beginnings of the popcorn company before he changed it.
- [21:21] — “2-3 acres of seed planted created 6-7 thousand pounds of popcorn.”
- [24:27] — Gene first began advertising with his family in stores throughout Kansas City. Soon after, Gene invested in advertising on a couple local TV stations.
- [27:05] — Gene tells us what he thinks of food labeling and the future of food and health in our country.
- [30:27] — “You have to be a seasoned soil scientist in order to be a successful organic farmer,” Gene states.
- [36:02] — Farmer Gene’s greatest learning lesson was to, “never plant all of your corn in one spot.”
- [40:13] — Gene would like to eventually turn the business over to his sons and focus more on the educational side of his mission.
- [42:32] — Gene’s last meal would be fresh vegetables and a “nice ribeye steak.”