MACOMB, IL - The Western Illinois University Organic Research Program recently received a 2013 Salute to Illinois Agriculture Agri-Tourism Leaders of the Year Award for its innovative direct marketing of purple and gold popcorn.
The award caps a six-year adventure in production, marketing and school spirit, according to Joel Gruver, assistant professor of soil science and sustainable agriculture in Western's School of Agriculture.
Gruver tracked down a source of colorful popcorn varieties, and soon one acre of purple and gold popcorn was planted at the WIU/Allison Organic Farm. The project wasn't without its challenges in the beginning, including poor germination of the purple variety, lots of weeds and voracious pests. But by late fall, 300 pounds of popcorn was hand-picked and shelled, packed in half-pound plastic bags with colorful labels and ready for holiday season sales.