Greenmarket staff shows off some amazing rye loaves baked by Runner and Stone bakery
This winter, Greenmarket took its Regional Grains Project on the road, to spread the word throughout the Northeast about what’s going on with regional grains, and share the delicious joy of locally-grown, processed, and prepared breads, cookies, crackers, and cakes. The tour began on January 20th, when Greenmarket staff headed up to Saratoga Springs for the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s 2012 Winter Conference. On the agenda for Greenmarket and partners from Cornell, the New York Industrial Retention Network, and several other partners was a day-long intensive workshop focused on scaling up the Northeast grains system. The workshop brought together farmers, millers, bakers, and researchers from around the region to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities faced by each, and to explore ways that these groups could support one another while trying to increase the availability of locally-grown grains in the Northeast.
In addition to panel discussions and presentations by some of the most innovative and visionary players in the Northeast grains landscape, the day’s activities culminated in a gathering around a table piled high with over a dozen breads made by local bakers, using locally grown and milled grains. To wash down these delicious morsels, Andrea and Christian Stanley of Valley Malt brought along a wheat wine made by Empire Brewing. The tasting allowed players from all along the grains value chain to appreciate how their work culminates into a delectable end product, and stimulated some of the richest conversation of the day. The next day, Saturday, a wider audience had the opportunity to share the experience of tasting regional grains. Greenmarket and partners hosted a larger tasting event, open to all conference attendees, and featuring an even more diverse pallet of products, ranging from corn crackers made by Wild Hive Farm and Bakery to an unbeatable rye loaf from Runner and Stone Bakery to emmer and spelt pastas from Patty Jackson of I Trulli in New York City. The event was truly a showcase of the wealth of flavors and products that are being produced as a result of an ever-expanding Northeast grains system. Two weeks later, the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project team took to the road once again, this time heading to State College, Pennsylvania for the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture Conference, one of the largest sustainable agriculture conferences on the East Coast. The tasting event at PASA had two goals. The first was to conduct a blind tasting, where participants tasted three identical breads, whose only difference was the grain used to make the flour. The three grains used—Warthog, Red Feif, and AC Morley—were grown by the same farmer, on the same field, in the same year, and tasters had the opportunity to assess qualities such as texture, flavor, and aroma. This blind tasting was part of the Value Added Grains Project’s goal of using consumer input to guide the production of local and organic grains. In addition to the blind tasting, the Value Added Grains Project also hosted a general tasting, much like the one at NOFA. Over a hundred people turned out to sample hits like blueberry buckwheat cake made by Elizabeth Dyck at OGRIN, einkorn flatbreads baked by Greenmarket’s own June Russell, and a variety of other delicious, local products.