Regionally-grown popcorn and homemade baked goods will be sold at the Chelsea Farmers Market on May 26. The sales will support a 24-year Chelsea tradition, the Chelsea-Shimizu Sister Cities Student Exchange Program.
Seven Beach Middle School eighth graders and two chaperones will embark on a 10-day cultural experience to Japan on June 19.
At the upcoming market, the students will sell Amaizin’ Pop popcorn and baked goods. The sales will result in 100-percent profit for the exchange students to apply toward their expenses. The popcorn and materials were donated by Charles Sing, grandfather of an exchange student. The students worked on Sing’s farm one afternoon to fill, label and pack containers for market from 50-pound bags that had been delivered from Sing’s partner farms in Dexter and Jackson. Students plan to bake and package goodies the day before the markets to prepare additional sale products.
The exchange students include Brandon Emmert, Makayla Kegerreis, Caden Knight, Maggie Olaveson, Evan Sing, Kendall Spink and Katie Wickman. Chaperones are Beach Middle School teachers Corey Knight and Susanna Miller.
The seven students traveling to Japan are upholding a Chelsea tradition to visit the city’s sister city, Shimizu, in the Hokkaido region. They will visit Hiroshima, temples, gardens and a school, as well as participate in a traditional tea ceremony. A core component of the experience is to live with a Japanese host family to gain a better understanding of Japanese culture. The exchange program was established to create goodwill and peaceful coexistence between two small communities so that students gain an appreciation for cultural differences and similarities. In 2019, the Chelsea students and their families will host Japanese exchange students.
Sing, affectionately known as Popcorn Charlie, is an Emeritus Professor at the University of Michigan Medical School. A career path led him from his family farm in Illinois to degrees in agronomy, plant breeding, statistics and, eventually, human genetics. In the 1980s, a friend convinced him to grow popcorn. Originally all hands-in with planting, growing and processing, Sing now focuses on developing hybrid strains of yellow popcorn that are produced and marketed to farmers by a seed company in Milan, Ohio. In addition to a yellow hybrid, a red kernel hybrid developed by a friend in Idaho will be offered for sale. All money raised from the popcorn sales at the Chelsea Farmers Markets will benefit the students’ travel. Popcorn will be sold for $ 7 a container or $12 for two containers. Baked goods pricing will vary.
To achieve the perfect pop, Popcorn Charlie recommends microwaving the corn dry in a microwave-safe popcorn bowl and tossing it with butter-flavored Pam. For a more gourmet flair, cook it on the stovetop with a generous olive oil base. Once popped, add creative seasonings, such as Cayenne or black pepper, Turmeric and olive oil.
For more information about the program, please visit Chelsea-shimizu.org.