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Pastor amazes with corn

October 21, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- It's a responsibility seldom seen in job descriptions of pastors, but one Paul Ostoich has assumed with gusto.

For the second year, Ostoich -- an associate pastor of family ministries at Tri-State Fellowship on Cearfoss Pike -- planted, designed and cut the corn maze for the church's Pumpkin Siege, a fall festival in October.

Ostoich said there was a steep learning curve when he created the maze for the first time last year. This year, with experience and more resources under his belt, it was easier, he said.

With the help of the Internet and mobile GPS devices, Ostoich said corn mazes are "cropping up everywhere" this year. He's not sure how other people create their mazes, but he was willing to share his technique.

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Ostoich said there are companies that, for a high price, will design a maze to specifications and cut it into a cornfield. He decided he could do the same thing and searched the Internet for a line-art drawing for this year's design of a waterfall flowing out of the Bible into a heart.

He recommends a simple design and uses few curved lines because angles are difficult to cut.

Work on the five-acre maze on Cearfoss Pike began the second week of June when Ostoich made the first planting of corn. He planted in 30-inch rows, then made a second planting of 30-inch columns.

That gave him a grid to use as he plotted the design on the 500-foot-by-700-foot field.

Ostoich, who is not a farmer, said he spent time with farmers growing up and has learned to trust the advice of those he consults for information.

"The best friends you have are farmers," Ostoich said. "They tell me what to do, and I do it."

Corn seed selection is key. Ostoich planted corn from Martin's Elevator; he wanted corn that grows well later in the season.

Once the corn is growing, there are different options for cutting the design. Ostoich's preferred method is to let the corn spike, allowing it to grow to about 3 to 4 inches before making a first run through the field to kill the young corn and create the design.

He said he used a tractor with a disc 5 feet wide to cut the pathways. He said some people wait until the corn is knee-high and pull it out by hand to create a design, but that only works in soft, smooth ground -- not in the harder soil of the no-till field he used.

Thanks to an aerial photo of the maze taken by a church member who owns an airplane, Ostoich was able to see where work was needed. He also used sprays and pulled up some stray stalks by hand as the field grew.

Rain washed out some of the seed and a hungry groundhog left some bare spots in the design, Ostoich said.

"It's the minor details that hang you up," he said.

The Tri-State Fellowship Corn Maze is open to the public for one more weekend -- Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. Admission costs $4 per person, but is free for ages 4 and younger.

For more information, call Beth Ostoich at 301-790-1774 or go to www.tristatefellowship.org.

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