Grains 2018 Year in Review
It was another action-packed year, with new projects sprouting up daily, as the staple crop revolution continues to take root across the country.
Our intrepid leader June Russell traveled the country to share lessons from the front lines at several key conferences, starting with her keynote address at the Cascadia Grains Conference in Olympia, Washington. We also attended:
We love sharing our story, offering lessons learned, and gaining inspiration from the many folks we meet.
In February, Greenmarket bakers – those who participate in our program and sell at our markets – met to learn about new resources for baking local, as well as to discuss increasing the percentage of local flour we require bakers to use from 15% to 25%. Greenmarket bakers average 38% local flour and use over 65,000 pounds of local grains and flour each month. We are proud of the progress they have made, and we’re excited that it gives us still more proof that supply and demand are steadily rising.
At the end of the month we relaunched our Home Bakers Meet-Up as an annual event, giving beginners and skilled home bakers a place to show off their goods, compare notes with their peers, and chat with professional bakers. This year we are hosting the annual meet-up on March 4th,. Click here for tickets and more information.
Fields of grain in the City? Not exactly. But in 2018 we collaborated with GrowNYC’s Governors Island Teaching Garden and NYU Urban Farm Lab to plant several varieties of small grains. We were thrilled to see sheaves of grain in the most urban setting of all. We look forward to more collaborations, so keep an eye out for more GrowNYC mini-grain farms around the city.
In May we welcomed to market Ulli’s Oil Mill. Look out for Ulli’s high quality organic, local, cold-pressed oils--like hemp, camelina, and pumpkin seed--sourced from New York farms, coming soon to GrowNYC’s Union Square Greenmarket and other weekend Greenmarkets.
In June we moved our granary to Industry City. We now have more space to co-pack and stage for our markets. We are getting to know our amazing neighbors at IC, many of whom are emailing us for drop-in shopping appointments.
In July, the GrowNYC Grains team took an awesome road trip through the Hudson Valley. We explored the innovative ways farmers, brewers, and bakers are incorporating the burgeoning bounty of northeastern grains into their breads, beers, and fields. Check out our previous post on the grains scene of Columbia and Greene counties.
September brought the Culinary Breeding Network’s Variety Showcase to Project Farmhouse for a dazzling afternoon. GrowNYC Grains was thrilled to host, for the first time on the East Coast, this annual breeder-to-eater celebration, where chefs created dishes spotlighting over 20 breeding projects from around the country. Grains were well represented. Gramercy Tavern's Michael Anthony, who was a grant partner with us on a prior USDA project, featured emmer alongside wheat breeder Mark Sorrells from Cornell University. Pat Hayes and his team from Oregon State University, alongside Metta head Chef Norberto Piattoni, featured their work in hull-less (or “naked”) barley. We were also thrilled to have folks come out from The Bread Lab of Washington State University.
We took advantage of the time we had with our west coast colleagues by hosting a barley tasting the very next day. Guests at the special gathering at Threes Brewing in Brooklyn learned about the Oregon-based field trials of several varieties of naked barley and tasted the grain in both crackers and delicious malted barley tea. Mark Sorrells and his team at Cornell, also a partner on the naked barley project, harvested the first 1500 lbs from their research fields in Ithaca, NY. We introduced buck, streaker and purple barley to New York consumers. Look for more in the coming years as we scale up new varieties.
October was all about rye. The second annual New York Rye Week fell mid-month, giving rye lovers exciting events around the clock. For our part, we hosted Rye Day at the Union Square Greenmarket. New York Distilling showcased its Empire rye whiskey, and others offered up an impressive array of rye beers, breads, and pastas.
In December, we were the lucky beneficiaries of a superb grains-themed dinner at Mettā, in Brooklyn. Our heartfelt thanks go out to Chef Norberto Piattoni, who thrilled us with dishes using ingredients from seven different grain farms and mills. And a huge thank you to Breukelen Distilling as well, for providing their rye whiskey as the base of a delicious Manhattan cocktail. And, of course, thanks to everyone who came out for this very special evening.
Last but not least… at the end of December, after three and a half years with GrowNYC Grains, Henry Blair worked his last day with us before heading off to new and exciting career projects. Henry was instrumental in helping launch and stabilize our retail program. During his tenure, he developed many relationships with chefs and bakers at market, assisting them to integrate local grains into their products. We will miss him and wish him the best in his new pursuits.