Strawberry popcorn company promotes domestic violence awareness
Tami and Hank Brackman pose in front of a banner advertising their business "Seed of Hope" in their yard in Reading on May 25, 2018. (Mitchell Kukulka | MLive.com)
Jars of "Seed of Hope" strawberry popcorn sit on a shelf. (Hank Brackman | Courtesy Photo)
Ears of strawberry corn are harvested for "Seed of Hope" strawberry popcorn. (Hank Brackman | Courtesy Photo)
Henry Brackman stands over a container of shelled strawberry corn. Henry, the father of "Seed of Hope" founder Hank Brackman, works with his son on a regular basis to plant and harvest the corn kernels used to make the company's popcorn. (Hank Brackman | Courtesy Photo) Hank Brackman
Two ears of strawberry popcorn sit in front of a selection of "Seed of Hope" popcorn products. (Mitchell Kukulka | MLive.com)
Hank Brackman poses with a bucket of strawberry corn in his yard on May 25, 2018, in Reading. The corn, which is used to make "Seed of Hope" popcorn products, is grown by Hank and his father Henry on their farm in Hillsdale. (Mitchell Kukulka | MLive.com)
A sign advertising the "Seed of Hope" popcorn company hangs from a tractor used to harvest the corn used for the popcorn. (Hank Brackman | Courtesy Photo) Hank Brackman
HILLSDALE COUNTY, MI - It's called strawberry popcorn because the ears of the corn are short and red - like a strawberry - not because it actually tastes like strawberries.
This is a common misconception Hank and Tami Brackman often have to clarify when advertising their business, "Seed of Hope," and its signature strawberry popcorn.
"This is something different - nobody else is selling it," Hank said. "It tastes really good and it's healthy. It comes from my heart and (Tami's) heart."
In addition to providing customers with a healthy, home-grown alternative snack, the Brackmans use every sale as an opportunity to spread awareness of domestic violence recovery resources -- the logo of the popcorn itself includes the purple Domestic Violence Awareness ribbon.
"That's what we really like to do -- to be able to get out in public and have the popcorn available and have material available for people to share, whether it's information about the different shelters or services available in their area," Tami said. "With every package sold, (customers) are seeing the ribbon, so this could go into somebody's hands who never even had an opportunity to hear about domestic violence."
The business is a synthesis of the couple's interests - Hank's enthusiasm for farming, and Tami's passion as a domestic violence awareness advocate.
After ending a previous marriage, Hank found himself looking for something new to occupy his time. He had always had a strong interest in farming, though for a while he didn't know how he could pursue that passion.
Inspiration struck when Hank remembered the strawberry popcorn his parents used to grow. A visit to their house revealed a Tupperware container in the basement full of still-usable strawberry corn kernels.
Originally planting the seeds just to keep himself occupied, Hank was only able to grow about 10 pounds of corn in his first year.
It was around this time he met Tami, who later became both his wife and business partner. The two decided to pursue Hank's idea to start up a popcorn company. The following year, they grew more than 1,000 pounds of the corn.
Hank takes pride in his more simplistic, down-to-earth style of farming, not using chemicals like pesticides. Hank has also taken to using older farm equipment, including a seed cleaner from 1942 and tractors from the 1950s, which he feels furthers the sense of authenticity to the process.
"The idea is to be able to complete the whole process using '50s-style machinery," Tami said. "The equipment that has somehow been made available for us to use has been amazing."
Before meeting Hank, Tami -- herself a survivor of domestic violence -- ran a Facebook group titled "Seed of Hope," which offered support and advice to victims of domestic abuse.
Around the time a steady amount of corn was coming in, the couple had the idea to merge to two ideas together.
Though the Brackmans recently moved to Reading, they do all of their farming on the same North Adams farm they started on. The couple often makes appearances at fairs and community gatherings throughout Michigan, including the Hillsdale County Fair and the Jackson Women's Expo, to spread the word of their product.
The popcorn can be bought at a limited number of retailers, including the Market House grocery stores in Hudson and Hillsdale, Hog Creek Antiques in Allen, through the Michigan-Made.com website or by directly contacting the Brackmans at firstname.lastname@example.org.