DC-Owned, Indiana-Grown!

DC teenagers (from left) Robert McFarlane, Alex Landinez, Henry Logan, Max Langenbacher and Nicolas Frank in the truck during the 2019 harvest. Photo: Luca Christiansen.

Celebrate the new year with a fresh batch of sweet corn while supporting a local Capitol Hill business: Larry’s Sweet Corn. Grown in the midwestern Indiana fields, this Non-GMO corn is packaged at the source and frozen to preserve its natural flavors. It is now available at Whole Food Markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest Region and online in Amazon in the Whole Foods section.

Behind Larry’s Sweet Corn are family, friends, and community in both Indiana and Washington, DC. Owner and Hill resident Maria Carolina Lopez fell in love with the golden kernels cultivated by her father-in-law, the local leader and environmentalist Larry Frank, who has been farming in Indiana for 45 years. 

Larry Frank explains when to pick corn at peak harvest.

Over the years, Carolina shared Larry’s corn with friends, and it was a favorite at every dinner party. As there is simply nothing comparable to it, it soon became highly requested, so she decided to bring this unique gourmet corn to the market.

Lopez runs the business from Capitol Hill. The mother of two came from Colombia 20 years ago and is an active member of the Capitol Hill community. For more than 17 years, she has served as the Chief Financial Officer at Capital Community News, which publishes the Hill Rag and two other DC community newspapers. For the last five of those, she has also been operating Larry’s Sweet Corn.

Caro and Family- Maria Carolina Lopez and Nicolas and Luciana Frank.

Lopez said that the product is so special because of a non-GMO seed and a unique harvesting process that ensures each batch of corn is picked at the point of perfection.  

“We are firm believers that there are only one or two days when corn has reached its peak in terms of sweetness and flavor,” Lopez said. “That is why we walk each field on foot only harvesting those ears which qualify for that day’s pickings. We preserve that quality as quickly as possible.”

“We go to great lengths to maximize its natural taste and flavor,” she said. “We grow our special non-GMO variety of corn on small family farms and pick it at absolute peak harvest. We then process the corn the old-fashioned way to preserve the natural juices with the kernels.”

A corn field and the Larry’s Sweet Corn processing center.

But it’s not just about the corn. Larry’s Sweet Corn’s mission is to rejuvenate rural farming and create community by providing jobs through sustainable wages. The small business works with small family farmers, the Amish community, local high school kids, Future Farmers of America, and Hill neighborhood teenagers who all have had opportunities to work in the fields or production. 

Lopez’s son, Nicolas Frank, now a sophomore at the University of California Los Angeles, has been traveling to Indiana every summer since he was in sixth grade to help his family harvest the corn. For the past four years, he has made the trip with other kids from Capitol Hill.

Frank emphasized that, above all, Larry’s Sweet Corn is a community. Both on the Hill and in rural Indiana, everyone is working toward producing the best corn possible. 

“This last year, eight of us guys from DC went to Indiana and worked with local high school students there and the Amish community as well,” he said. “You have all of these people from different groups, demographics, and ages all in one place working toward this common goal of producing the sweet corn.” 

“It teaches you what real physical labor is all about,” Frank said. “It’s not easy. It’s incredibly intensive when we work 10-to-16-hour days.”

The corn was picked up in the local program of Whole Foods on P Street NW in DC in 2015 and eventually was carried in all the DMVA area stores. When Amazon purchased Whole Foods, the corn was extended to the MidAtlantic and Midwest area in 2018, and now it is also offered in Amazon through the Whole Foods section of the website.

You can learn more about Larry’s Sweet Corn and find their popular corn bread recipe on their website Larrysweetcorn.com. Find Larry’s Sweet Corn on Amazon or in the frozen section of your local Whole Foods Market. 

Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with the Hill Rag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at Sarap@hillrag.com