As a kid, Jon Breeding thought popcorn came from a Mason jar that sat on a shelf above a potbelly stove in his grandfather’s shop.
He has vivid memories of his grandfather grabbing an old wire basket popcorn popper, filling it with kernels from the jar and sticking the basket inside the stove.
Now, as the owner of a 300-plus-acre popcorn farm in Rineyville, Breeding knows that what he remembers from his childhood definitely is not the case.
Before Breeding and his son, Jake, continue harvesting this year’s crop, they finish their lunch break about midday on a recent Tuesday. The two share homemade peanut butter cookies, which were wrapped in aluminum foil. When they finish, they will grease the combine to complete the harvest, but they also are waiting for Buck O’Connor to arrive at the farm.
O’Connor, an amateur program developer currently coordinating with Kentucky Educational Television, found Breeding by research and talking with other growers and product distributors. He also made it a point to visit Breeding.
“Jon told me, ‘I like what you do and want to be a part of it,’” O’Connor said.
O’Connor, a full-time real estate agent in Louisville, is creating his own children’s educational show that will air on KET. The program, “A Day in Buck’s Big World,” teaches children about such things as how corn is planted or, in this case, harvested.
O’Connor said all he sees on TV anymore, including the public channels, is animation. He said they have gone away from using real people.
“Instead of saying something about it, I did something about it,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor doesn’t claim to be a professional in the industry and said some of his equipment may be considered “low budget,” but he also said this has been the lowest pressure situation in television production.
“I just want to tell a good story,” O’Connor said. “I have a blast doing this.”
The program features products grown in the state, and includes three major types of corn grown: dent, or field corn, sweet corn, and popcorn.
“Our popcorn is a Kentucky Proud Product,” Breeding said. “We grow for Preferred Popcorn in Bradford, Indiana, and it is a product that is featured at Kroger stores.”
Preferred Popcorn sends five boxcar loads a week to Mexico City and ships popcorn to 27 different countries according to Breeding.
“ It just amazed me how big popcorn really is,” Breeding said.
In the current program being filmed by O’Connor a little girl is taken to each one of these corn farms to show her their differences and how each is harvested.
“I guess it was my lucky day,” Breeding said when it came to O’Connor choosing his popcorn farm. “I’m very tickled to do it. I love kids.”
He thinks its “neat” that he and Jake can help teach kids where things come from, Breeding said.
Several days of filming already have taken place, including filming with a girl who asks questions about where popcorn comes from. Tuesday, when O’Connor returned to the farm, filming included installing Go- Pro cameras on combines to record the harvest from Breeding’s perspective and watch the corn being dumped into a truck. Future filming follows the popcorn to Preferred Popcorn and concludes with how the popcorn is packaged in a microwave bag.
“I found out I do not want to go to Hollywood,” Breeding said laughing and recalling having to do “take after take after take.”
Breeding said some voiceover work still needs to be done.
In his opinion, Breeding believes the show is going to be very good and is pleased with it, even though the footage has not gone through final stages of production.
“I think it’s going to be awesome,” he said.
O’Connor complimented Breeding, saying he bent over backward to help him teach children what he does and help make it easier for them to understand.
“It’s a wonderful memory,” O’Connor said.
O’Connor said he would like the show, to be on-air sometime before the end of the year. Those interested in watching the program will need to reference KET’s program schedule where they can find some of the other programs already being aired.
Breeding has been involved with farming all of his life but has been growing popcorn for three years. He said a friend encouraged him to take up the crop.
“I was looking for something a little different,” Breeding said.
According to Breeding, Hardin County has slightly more than 2,000 acres dedicated to growing popcorn, making it the third largest producer in the state.