Education and research are core missions of the Regional Grains Project. Here you can tap into the knowledge and experience of practitioners and pioneers in the field through technical assistance videos, fact sheets, case studies, webinars, and more. Check back for frequent updates.
Thor Oechsner, grower & partner of
Stefan Senders of
Andrea Stanley of
In an effort to address the need for information on how to start businesses in small-scale grain-processing and baking, the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project and the Organic Growers Research and Information-Sharing Network teamed up to produce a series of case studies on successful entrepreneurs working with regional grains. The first two are available now: Read about Valley Malt, the pioneering maltsters behind one of the few micro-malting facilities in the northeast, and about Small Valley Milling, the multi-generational family who built a thriving grains-processing enterprise over decades. Through this initiative, funded by the USDA's Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program, GRGP is working to spur the development and growth of the regional grains system.
A core piece of GRGP’s work with our partners in the Value-Added Grains Project is the evaluation of 146 varieties of ancient, heritage and modern grains. In 2011, crop scientists began growing these grains on test plots in 4 geographically diverse locations: two in New York, one in Pennsylvania, and one in North Dakota. A select group of them were chosen for detailed analysis in four categories: how well they can be cultivated; how easily they can be processed and milled; how they perform in cooking and baking; and how they taste in their final form, be it bread, pasta, or as a cooked whole grain. The results have been critical in helping scientists identify food-grade grains for further development. The study has also shed light on gaps in the knowledge and infrastructure base of grain cultivation resulting from its disappearance from the Northeast in the early 20th century. The project team - which includes GRGP, OGRIN, Cornell University, and NOFA-NY - is working to help farmers and other entrepreneurs overcome these hurdles, so they can continue to rebuild the regional grainshed – a key ingredient for robust soils, a healthy diet, and thriving local economies.
Heritage and Modern Wheats
”Mixing come-together,” “proofing tolerance tackiness,” and “crumb-texture suppleness” -- terms only the most dedicated bread-bakers would know. Fortunately, the artisans who gathered in January 2014 to evaluate these and other baking qualities were up to the task. Tapped by the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project and its partners, a select group of professional bakers led by master baker and educator Jeffrey Hamelman gathered to score the baking performances of 7 different flours, each made with a different wheat variety. The scores were combined with measurements at the previous stage of harvest - such as falling number and protein content – and measurements at the final stage of eating, when trained tasters consumed the wheat varieties in various forms and reported their experiences.
Of the 146 grain varieties being tested in the field, 66 are emmer, an ancient grain in the wheat family that can produce delicious pasta. Four of the 66 underwent the same analysis as the heritage and modern wheats above. First they were measured at harvest for falling number, protein content, and the toxic chemical vomitoxin. Next, Gramercy Tavern Executive Chef Michael Anthony led his team of pasta-makers as they made several kinds of pasta with all four varieties and evaluated their performance for qualities like “shininess,” “graininess,” and “cohesion.” Finally, 13 trained tasters evaluated the pasta, as well as the emmer simply cooked whole, for sensory qualities like “grassy,” “fresh,” and “herbaceous.”
About Our Funding
We are fortunate to have our work funded through these grant programs:
Value-added Grains for Local and Regional Food Systems. USDA, Organic Research and Education Initiative (OREI)
Greenmarket has joined a national team of sustainable agriculture researchers and other experts to develop and scale up the production of food-grade, high-value wheats and other grains, with funding from the USDA. Our partners are studying how to optimize grain quality and market potential of heritage wheats and other grains, through their improved growth, processing, management and marketing. Greenmarket’s role is chiefly to explore strategies for accessing local and regional markets.
Growing Agricultural Businesses around Regional Grains Production. USDA, Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program, (RMAP)
The RMAP initiative led to the creation of technical assistance tools for farmers, millers, bakers and other entrepreneurs hoping to start careers in food-grade grain processing and baking. With funding from the USDA and in partnership with the Organic Growers’ Research and Information-Sharing Network (OGRIN), we produced technical assistance videos, hosted workshops, and published online fact sheets and case studies.
From Farm to Bakery: Building Value Chains for Regionally Grown and Milled Grains. USDA, Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP)
The first grant-funded initiative of the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project was “Farm to Bakery,” in which we matched flour mills sourcing grain from regional growers with commercial and home bakers in New York City. The project, which resulted in the Farm to Bakery report, was a partnership with New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Pratt University, and the New York Industrial Retention Network.