15 Reasons To Eat Locally Grown Grain

June 18, 2012
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged Grains

Since 2010, Greenmarket has required its bakers to use at least 15% local flour in their breads and baked goods. Why? To make sure Greenmarket bakers are as much a part of local agriculture as Greenmarket farmers. The great news is that, since then, bakers have incorporated increasing amounts of locally-grown grains into their products. Greenmarket has helped by supporting grain farmers; creating connections to build processing infrastructure like mills, malt houses, and distilleries; and hosting tastings and other events to get customers excited about local grains. Greenmarket bakers now use an average of 50% local flour. With so many reasons to source local grains, this number will continue to grow! 15 Reasons to Eat Locally Grown Grain 1. Local grains taste better. Farmers grow a diverse variety of wheat and other grains, and these products travel a more direct path from the field to your pantry. Without the conventional additives, local grains have more interesting flavor profiles and taste fresher. 2. Local grains have more character. From their behavior in the bowl to their nutritional value, local grains are “alive”, making them more fun to work with and better for your body. 3. Local grains build healthy soils. Growing grains can prevent soil erosion and add organic matter to soils, building their fertility. In other words: Local grains help support the local vegetables we love! 4. Supporting local grains rebuilds regional food systems and the regional economy. In addition to the on-farm jobs they support, local grains require processing, storage, and distribution. This means more regional-scale infrastructure and jobs in these facilities. It also paves the way to create other regional food infrastructure for products like meat, pickled and processed goods, and more. 5. Nothing makes truly “artisan” bread like truly artisan grains. Bakers using regional grains are constantly innovating to celebrate the diverse flavors and characteristics of local grains, creating a richer array of products. 6. If eating emmer makes you sexy, eating einkorn makes you even sexier. Need we say more? 7. Local grains increase the diversity of products farmers can grow. This makes their businesses stronger and more resilient. It also makes local ecology more resilient by increasing biodiversity. 8. Greenmarket farmers grow these products really, really well. They do magic with tomatoes; imagine what they can do with spelt. 9. You shouldn’t have to go to Brighton Beach to get good buckwheat and rye bread. 10. Heritage corn makes better polenta, better tortillas, and better bourbon. 11. You can cook it, bake it, brew it AND distill it. 12. Local grains are traceable. No GMOs. No secrets. Just ask your farmer. 13. “Warthog” is fun to say. Our farmers love it for its beautiful agronomic traits. Our bakers love it for its rich flavor. We just like the way it sounds. 14. Because the “staff of life” should be local, too. 15. Bread is agriculture! And so is beer, whiskey, cake, and granola.

Bread is Agriculture: Greenmarket Bakers and Local Grains

June 13, 2012
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged Grains

In 2010, after years of conversations with its bakers and farmers, Greenmarket implemented a rule requiring its bakers to source at least 15% of the flour they used from local farms and mills. As an organization which seeks to strengthen regional agriculture, Greenmarket wanted to ensure that all of its producers were in support of this mission. On the other hand, much of the infrastructure to grow and process grains in the Northeast had been lost throughout the decades. By implementing the 15% local flour rule, Greenmarket was asking its bakers to reflect the organization’s mission in their business models, while recognizing the inherent challenges that sourcing local flour could create. Now, two years later, Greenmarket is proud to announce that its bakers use an average of 50% local flour in their baked goods. New infrastructure has been added to the Northeast’s grain-shed, and this sector of the food system continues to grow. To highlight the success of this partnership between Greenmarket and its bakers, over the next few months Greenmarket will be sharing regular installments in our Bread is Agriculture series. Look out for interviews with bakers on the GrowNYC blog; Baked Good of the Week features on Facebook; and literature at the info booth at our markets, including 15 Reasons to Eat Local Grain.

The Northeast Grainshed: 2011 Season in Review - Part 3: Retail Innovations and Spring 2012 Preview

April 30, 2012
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged Grains

The increasing prevalence of grains on New York area farms and in processing facilities throughout the region has manifested itself as a spectacular and delicious array of products and end uses in New York City, and around the Northeast. Conversations with businesses putting these locally-grown grains to work demonstrates a creativity and enthusiasm worthy of the hard work that has gone into their production. Bakeries are typically the first to come to mind when thinking about how consumers enjoy local grains and flours. The role that Greenmarket and its bakers have played in stimulating this facet of the food system confirms this important relationship. In 2010, interested in encouraging its bakers to be more mission supportive, Greenmarket implemented its Bakers Rules, which required bakers at market to use a minimum of 15% local flour in their breads and baked goods. Many staff and farmers in the Greenmarket community felt it only fair that bakers, who had long relied on commodity flours, incorporate practices into their businesses that would support local foods and farms. The 15% level was chosen in order to both create significant pressure on the Northeast grain-shed to grow, while recognizing that local flour was still somewhat of a novelty. Greenmarket bakers have become increasingly enthusiastic about the local flour rule since its implementation, and today some bakers go well beyond the 15% minimum requirement. As a result, the use of local flour by Greenmarket bakers has grown to an average of 50% used by each baker, and some bakers source the vast majority of their flour from farms throughout the region. At the same time, bakers outside of the Greenmarket system have shown their support of local agriculture through their sourcing practices, as well. In 2011, Peter Endriss, formerly of Hot Bread Kitchen, began baking and selling bread under his own label, Runner & Stone. From the beginning, Peter was interested in using local flours for Runner & Stone’s products. He had first gotten experience with these products at Hot Bread Kitchen; as a Greenmarket bakery, they source from the Northeast. But his involvement in Slow Food, and his background in natural resources management and environmental inspections, contribute to what he describes as a “natural marriage” between making great food and ensuring that it’s done in a low environmental impact way. For Endriss, the challenge comes in adapting these local flours and whole grains to achieve the products he envisions for Runner & Stone. His father is from Germany, and Peter spent some time early in his career baking in the Black Forest region. The influence of this period can be seen in the pretzel croissants and Schwabian pretzels that have made their way into his offerings at the Brooklyn Flea, where he sells his products each weekend. It is also apparent in his TKTKT ryes. Endriss also bakes products that have stayed with him from travels to Paris, like the canneles he says he just started making because “I wanted to eat it”. All of the whole grain and all purpose flours Endriss uses are locally sourced, and in the fall he will be opening a retail bakery and full-service Runner & Stone restaurant in Gowanus, which will feature local and seasonal products throughout the menu. The crafting of locally-grown grains into delicious concoctions and products doesn’t stop at bread. Farm-forward restaurants are increasingly featuring local grains on their menus, from pastas to risottos to more out-of-the-box dishes that often depart from the traditional fixation on protein-obsessed cuisine. Chef Mike Anthony, who has been the chef at Gramercy Tavern for the past six years, describes the infusion of grains throughout his menu, both as a professional chef and as a parent. Anthony’s commitment to exploring products like freekeh or barley reflects his growing awareness that grains form a foundation of the way we eat. He explains that, at home, he can augment a basket of local produce with locally-grown grains to create meals that are nutritious, but also filling. Given that they are such a fundamental component of our diets, Anthony has likewise created dishes for his restaurant that pay homage to this food group, while re-defining what luxury food means to New York eaters. Rather than adopting a European palette focused on imported ingredients, Anthony defines luxury as a connection to source, and an ability to explore luscious textures and amazing aromas through ingredients that have a back-story. He describes a dish where barley is cooked until soft with vegetable stock, then folded into reduced carrot juice and a rainbow of glazed carrots of different varieties. Over the top he showers grilled carrots, then shaves raw carrot over the top. While lacking in the traditional richness associated with luxury foods – butter, cream, cheese – this dish explores texture and color through simple, incredibly fresh ingredients. In addition to an ever-evolving palette of dishes such as this one, Gramercy tavern uses spelt flour in their hamburger buns. In 2012, Anthony plans to introduce a spelt pasta, as well – which, he explains, will have a soba-like quality. He plans to pair it with grilled ramps. Also milling around in his imagination: How to bring Einkorn, an ancient grain with an emerging presence in the Northeast grainshed, into his kitchen. As farmers broaden the array of grains they produce, and processing capacity grows and diversifies, the number of end-uses for local grains has also expanded. Not least among the emerging users of local grains are the region’s brewers and distillers. Just last year, Greenmarket introduced its first beer vendor at market – Tundra Brewing. From this promising start-up all the way up to what is perhaps the city’s best-known beer-maker – Brooklyn Brewery – we are seeing more and more local grains in our pint glasses. In 2011, Brooklyn Brewery introduced the High Line Elevated Wheat, a seasonal brew available for sale exclusively on the High Line. While Brooklyn Brewery has used local honey for some time, many of the other ingredients necessary for brewing beer have been largely unavailable at the local level, until recently. For the Elevated Wheat, Brooklyn Brewery sourced red winter wheat from North Country Farms. The wheat was selected because it grows well in New York State, and also because of its nice, smoky flavor. While the Elevated Wheat was brewed specially for the 2011 season, Brooklyn Brewery has ambitions for expanding its repertoire of beers using local grains sometime in the future. One hope is to grow barley specifically for the brewery on Long Island, malt it locally in Brooklyn, and combine it with locally-grown hops to create an entirely local Brooklyn brew. The number of new distilleries cropping up in and around New York City is perhaps the most impressive example of the development of regional grain-focused businesses. Take Tuthilltown Spirits, for example. A pioneering farm distillery since the early 2000s, as of 2011 Tuthilltown sourced 90% of its grains from within NY State, the majority from within 10 miles of the distillery. These grains include a variety of corn called Whapsie Valley, as well as rye varietals that were identified with the help of a seed saver in New England. As a farm distillery, Tuthilltown must be financially responsible for its crops, meaning that it leases land from partner farms and hires the farmer to grow the grains for the distillery; this arrangement provides an incentive for a farmer to grow obscure grains that may otherwise be absent from the Northeast agricultural landscape. Tuthilltown Spirits spent some time in 2011 experimenting with some less conventional grains in its distillery, including spelt, oats, and triticale. While they haven’t released any of these experimental batches, they plan to continue trying different grains and eventually releasing small batches of these spirits, most likely within the next year and a half. They’re also working with a New York producer of wild rice, and thinking more and more about soju, which can be made from both locally-grown sweet potatoes or barley. Tuthilltown is not the only distiller using local grains to bring great spirits to consumers in the region. Finger Lakes Distilling, The New York Distilling Company, and Breuckelen Distilling are among other businesses with a commitment to supporting the local grain-shed. And, as growth continues to occur all along the Northeast grains value chain, the diversity of appearances of local grains in city restaurants, bakeries, markets, and on store shelves will likely grow, as well.

Ground Breaking Bread Baking

March 19, 2012
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged Grains

In late-February, when Greenmarket farmers could still claim they were in ‘winter hibernation,’ Thor Oeschner and Erik Smith of Farmer Ground Flour and Cayuga Pure Organics snuck away from their farms in the Finger Lakes to make an appearance at the Brooklyn Kitchen. Each presented a series of slides that documented the process that takes place from seed to market to bring local grain and flour down to sell to city customers. It wasn’t so many years ago that they started selling their products at Greenmarket to begin with, and now their whole grains like freekeh and emmer appear on the menu at places like the John Dory Oyster Bar and have graced the airwaves on National Public Radio. With a burgeoning market for their products in the city, their business has been able to expand, meaning new equipment, new varieties in the field and luckily for us, many new loaves of bread around town. Earlier this week, 75 bread baking enthusiasts from around the city made their way out of the woodwork (okay, their pint sized city kitchens) to share what they’ve been concocting with local flour. Into the Home Baker’s Meet-up streamed carefully wrapped loaves of hard red wheat sourdough, whole wheat levain, honey whole wheat, Irish soda bread, sourdough topped with flax, nigella sesame, celery and mustard seeds, and thin sheets of einkorn flatbread, among many, many others. Bakers eagerly shared recipes and ideas: how to use fermented apple peels to make sourdough starter, or how to make a rye and pickle loaf (again, nice and sour). People talked about experimenting with the local flour available at farmstands like Oak Grove Plantation, Cayuga Pure Organics and Wild Hive Bakery to make monkey bread and pizza dough. Professional bakers Sharon Leader of Bread Alone, Terrence Geary of Orwasher’s and Peter Endriss of Runner and Stone talked to the group about what the introduction of local flour to the market over the last few years has meant to their respective businesses. They have adjusted long-standing recipes and invented new ones based on the products that are now available. And they’re literally buying tons. Turning from the commodity hard wheat crop from big mills in the Midwest, these bakers have figured out how to work with varieties that grow well in our immediate surroundings like spelt, einkorn, buckwheat and triticale while still meeting customers’ expectations for superior taste and quality, and at the same time introducing them to products they have never tasted before. Gable Erenzo of Tuthilltown Spirits has embraced regional grain in liquid form: we love him for his excellent Hudson Baby Bourbon, but in the distillery’s reserve he’s got trial bottles of spirits made of triticale and whatever else he can get his hands on. We can’t wait to taste what makes it to the top shelf. Visit our collection of recipes < http://www.grownyc.org> for inspiration to start baking on your own with local grains!

The Northeast Grainshed: 2011 Season in Review – Part 2: Processing and Infrastructure

March 15, 2012
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged Grains

While grain farmers in the Northeast grappled with rainy weather and growing demand for regional grains in 2011, off the farm, millers and processors worked to keep up with the expanding popularity of locally-produced flours, malts, and other products throughout this past year. This meant both challenges and exciting new additions to the region’s grain infrastructure. The relative newness of the small-scale grain system in the Northeast presents some challenges to scaling up. According to Glenda Neff of the Farm to Bakery project, almost all of the mills currently processing locally-grown grains are fairly new, small, stone mills. Few have the equipment to test for grain quality, so they have to send out samples to labs to check such characteristics as protein level and falling rate. In addition, access to equipment for post-harvest cleaning is limited; an increasing number of small-scale mills are considering how to add this to their set up. Another challenge to infrastructure is the lack of additional processing equipment for those grains needing specialized processing, like oats. Cut oats need to be steamed and processed, so that the oils in them don’t go rancid. Currently, the set up to do this on a regional scale is largely lacking. Likewise, de-hulling equipment for grains like spelt and emmer is available in only a few locations throughout the region. Only two mills have de-hulling equipment, and process grains that need the hulls removed as a service for other farmers and millers in the region. Wild Hive Farm and Mill is one such processor hoping to provide this service. The need for growth in infrastructure creates an opportunity for scaling up, and 2011 marked a year of significant growth for the Northeast grainshed. According to miller Gregory Mol, for example, over the past six months Farmer Ground Flour has been purchasing additional equipment to expand its grinding capacity from 300 pounds per hour to an eventual 800 pounds per hour. Mol, who describes milling as a process of grinding and sifting, is adding a bigger stone mill and a couple more sifters to his facility. Some of the equipment was purchased used from the old Hodgson Mill facility, a national-scale processer of whole grain and organic products. Mol expects that, once the equipment is fully installed, his increased production capacity will lead to an eventual need for more storage space. Wild Hive Farm and Mill also greatly expanded its processing capacity in 2011. Owner Don Lewis previously operated one 20-inch mill, and in 2011 added a 30-inch mill and a 16-inch mill. This meant he more than doubled his capacity. The addition of the smaller mill also means he can do more specialized orders for smaller clients. Like Farmer Ground Flour, Wild Hive’s “new” equipment was actually purchased used; according to Lewis, used equipment is preferable, since factory standards are low so new equipment often needs significant work to get it functioning properly. Wild Hive Farm and Mill expects to continue expanding in 2012, opening to the public for tours and educational programming. Valley Malt is another processor who made great strides in scaling up in 2011. As one of only a handful of micro-malting facilities in North America, Valley Malt is a pioneer in grain processing in the Northeast. The business started in 2010 when owner Andrea Stanley and her husband, Christian, started looking into establishing their own micro-brewery using all local ingredients. What they quickly discovered was that locally-grown grains would need to be malted before brewing, and the closest malt-house—in Wisconsin—required a minimum order of 30 tons of grain. The Stanleys decided this was a gap that needed filling, and decided to become the first small-scale malt house in the Northeast. This past year, Valley Malt made some exciting additions to their business. One highlight is their Brewers Supported Agriculture program. Eight breweries bought shares of the field where Valley Malt’s barley is grown (the company works extremely closely with farmers like Klaus Martens to produce food-quality barley with appropriate characteristics for malting), and then received distributions of malt throughout the season. One participating brewer commented that adding Valley Malt’s product to their mash caused an immediate reaction to their senses. The aromas produced by the local malt were so distinct and delicious that brewers were taken aback. To Andrea, this highlights not only the growth in awareness for locally-produced grain products; it also affirms the need to make local products that are superior in quality. Like Farmer Ground Flour, Valley Malt expects continued growth in 2012. The company will shut down its equipment for the first two weeks of March to install a new system, which will allow them to increase production from 1 ton of malt per week to 4 tons weekly. This will allow Valley Malt to catch up, to some degree, to current demand. Re-building the regional grainshed has meant a lot of creativity and self-sufficiency. Christian Stanley, an engineer by training, designed the malt vessel for Valley Malt, and did the installation and mechanization work himself. At NOFA-NY’s winter conference in January, a workshop led by R.G. Bell, Tim Baty, and Robert Perry covered small-scale grain cleaning, storage, and milling; a major focus of the workshop was how small-scale equipment can be fashioned out of easily-accessible and re-purposed materials. Finally, growth in 2011 could be seen in the expansion of local-scale distilling in and around New York City. A number of new distilleries opened up this past year, many of whom proudly use local grains in their product. Stay tuned for Seasonal Updates Part 3 – Regional Grains Retail for more on local distilleries.

Regional Grains Project Roadshow

February 27, 2012
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged Grains

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.

The Northeast Grainshed : 2011 Season in Review

January 18, 2012
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged Grains, greenmarket co

Winter wheat coming up at Hawthorne Valley Farm

For farmers in New York and surrounding states, heavy rain was the hallmark of the 2011 season. In many cases, the volume of rain proved disastrous. Grain producers in the Northeast faced a variety of challenges owing to the season’s wet weather, resulting in low yields, poor quality product, and reduced protein content. In Pennsylvania, Fusarium was the biggest culprit. Commonly known as wheat scab or head blight, Fusarium is a fungus, which is found in the ground and infects wheat when rain splashes soil onto plants. Winter wheat is especially susceptible, since it flowers earlier in the season, when rain is more likely. The later growing season in New York this year meant that producers there were largely spared from Fusarium. However, the wet season resulted in a different challenge for these farmers: low protein content. A typical winter wheat grown in the Northeast can have a protein content of around 11%. The 2011 season’s average was below 10%. This may be owing to reduced fertility; heavy rains washed much of the nitrogen that contributes to protein content out of the soil. Given the problems caused by the rainy season, the region’s farmers found a variety of ways to bring their products to the market. Crops infected with Fusarium could, in some instances, sell to outlets like distilleries, which process grains in such a way so that toxins are destroyed. Millers and bakers who could get their hands on high-protein spring wheat blended these with the lower-content winter wheat to create bread flours that met the needs of the region’s bakers. And farmers and millers continue working with bakers to find innovative uses for the diverse grains grown in the northeast. Despite the numerous challenges faced by grain farmers, hopes are high for a better season in 2012. While there isn’t much farmers can do about the weather, planting a greater variety of grains can help hedge against anomalies like excessive rain. For instance, although winter wheat typically produces a higher yield, spring wheat has higher protein content and is more resistant to Fusarium. Increasing the acreage of spring wheat can help balance against issues that make winter varieties more vulnerable. Farmers can also plant more non-wheat grains as a way to diversify. Elizabeth Dyck, founder of the Organic Growers Research and Information-Sharing Network (OGRIN), explains that not a single food-grade grain is being grown in sufficient volume to meet market demand in the New York-Pennsylvania area. For example, there is burgeoning interest in locally-grown rye among the baker community and consumers. Organic brewers and distilleries in the region are seeking out a number of different grains as well. Other farmers and millers point out a similar growth in demand for regional grains. For instance, demand for high-quality bread flour means that hard red spring wheats, which are higher in protein and yield a better bread flour than lower-protein winter wheats, need to see more acres planted in the coming seasons. Emmer is another example of a grain whose supply hasn’t caught up to demand. Currently, the home baker can count on having access to the most diverse array of locally-grown grain products. Outlets like Brooklyn Kitchen carry some local flours and grains, and grain farmers and millers sell their product at several Greenmarket locations citywide. Meanwhile, some producers choose to limit their outreach to larger, wholesale customers until the local supply is sufficient to meet their demand. As the regional grain system continues to develop, organizations like OGRIN can help locate clean sources of seed, work with farmers to order sufficient volume, and give recommendations of good-quality and reliable varieties. Farmers and millers must also continue to find innovative new ways to ensure profitability of grain crops in years where weather jeopardizes quality. As bakers, restaurants, and individual consumers continue to discover regional grains, there will be a need for farmers to continue broadening their offerings to this expanding market.

Warthog is here!

January 14, 2012
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged Grains

In January, 2010, Greenmarket and NOFA-NY’s Organic Wheat Project hosted an event at the French Culinary Institute, which brought together grain producers, processors, bakers and chefs. In addition to discussing the development of an emerging regional grain system, the event included a tasting of products baked with locally-grown grains. Of all the wheat varieties showcased at this event, one proved a standout in terms of flavor: Warthog.

Among those present at the 2010 event was Thor Oechsner of Farmer Ground Flour. An organic crop farmer of over 700 acres in New York’s Finger Lakes region, Oechsner was taken by Warthog’s superb flavor, and began planting the variety for the first time that year. Now, Oechsner claims to grow more Warthog than any other producer in the Northeast. Warthog is a hard red winter wheat. Winter wheat is planted in fall, and grows to about four inches tall before becoming dormant in the cold winter temperatures. Then, it undergoes a process called vernalization; this period of dormancy is required for the plant to put up a seed head the following spring. The wheat is then harvested in July. Winter wheat tends to produce a higher-yield, lower-protein product. Oechsner describes Warthog as a hardy, strong, good-looking crop. To top it all off, it is amazingly easy to harvest.

While Warthog is relatively new to the United States, its commercial presence has grown in the Northeast’s regional grain shed since the tasting event two years ago. This is because, in addition to its great flavor, it is currently the best available hard red winter wheat variety. A reliable, clean seed supply has been accessible to Northeast farmers. It holds a high falling number, which means it resists sprouting in seed, an important quality for good baking flour. Its protein content is also considered decent for a winter variety.

Despite its benefits, Oechsner and other Warthog producers did face setbacks this year, owing to the wet weather. The wheat’s protein content was lower than expected. But Oechsner is confident that blending Warthog with a spring wheat flour will boost protein content while letting Warthog’s special flavor shine through. Blending means that Warthog’s traceability in the marketplace is reduced for the time being. However, the hope is that, in coming years, bakers and restaurants will seek out Warthog specifically for its superior flavor, and continue to spur the variety’s progress in the Northeast. In addition, Oechsner will be collaborating during the 2012 season with Elizabeth Dyck of OGRIN to develop grain trials with Warthog. These grain trials could lead to techniques for growing Warthog that will boost protein content and hedge against future rainy seasons. The focus of these trials is timing nitrogen fertilization. By adding nitrogen at a point when most of the plant’s vegetative growth has occurred – called the “boot” stage – the plant’s energy will be concentrated on seed development and protein production.

While Oechsner’s and Dyck’s goal is to learn more about growing Warthog successfully in the Northeast, Dyck continues to work with other producers to explore a variety of grains that could thrive in this region. Warthog is a great winter variety with outstanding flavor, but the hope is that, in the near future, growers will be able to choose among several high-quality wheat varieties.

New York Magazine Declares the Moment in Local Flour

January 10, 2012
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged Grains

Bread Last month, New York magazine's 'Reasons to Love New York' issue featured a 14-page spread on this 'local-floured moment in dough', an homage to the artisanal loaves that are being baked in the city's top ovens. Greenmarket’s efforts to encourage more regional growers to start planting grain began back in 2004, when Greenmarket began to assess how and where its bakers could source local flour. Thanks to those early efforts, chefs and bakers have embraced these less familiar grains incorporating them into seasonal dishes on their menus, and even hiring bakers and building bread ovens for their restaurants (Roman's and Roberta's, both in Brooklyn, are two examples). The article's 'Bread (Time) Line', notes 2009’s introduction of Cayuga Pure Organics’ locally grown and milled flour to Greenmarket as one of the most recent milestones in a great history. No less than 6 of the 13 bakers mentioned in New York’s round-up of the baker's dozen best attended the landmark tasting of local grains held by Greenmarket and the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA) nearly two Januarys ago at the French Culinary Institute (covered here by Edible Manhattan). This event helped lay the groundwork for New York’s local grains revolution. And since that tasting, three more bakers that made NY mag's list have become involved with Greenmarket's Farm to Bakery pilot, a program which connects bakers directly to regional grain growers. Due to the increasing demand in the city marketplace, Greenmarket's grain farmers are expanding their businesses and encouraging the development of infrastructure like mills and malting facilities. And outside the city, on a regional scale, Greenmarket's work to publicize these farmers, help build demand, and educate shoppers on the varieties of grains that grow well in the Northeast has rippled out to fields in Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine, where yet more growers and bakers are embracing this wave of heritage grain. Check out a list of where and when to buy local grain and flour at Greenmarket, as well as a list of Greenmarket grain-forward recipes to expand your baking repertoire.

Grains Week - a success!

November 29, 2010
Posted in Greenmarket | Tagged Grains, grains week

Greenmarket Grains Week—seven days of collaborative programming to promote the re-emergence of local grains in our regional food system—has ended, and we're proud to say that it was a huge success! Home bakers compared recipes and tried each other's bread; experts discussed the past, present, and future of local grains; and baking classes and cooking demonstrations showed New Yorkers how to use local grains to make anything from pancakes to bagels.

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