Our network of farmers markets, Youthmarkets, Fresh Food Box pick-ups, and Greenmarket Co. ensures that all New Yorkers have access to the freshest, healthiest local food.
From the latest newsletter:
September, 2019 - Annual Grains Field Trip
The story of grain from farm, to mill, to bakery
Amid the chaos of summer harvests, GrowNYC's Grains team visited Lani's Farm, Castle Valley Mill, and Lost Bread Co.
While touring Lani’s in Bordentown, NJ, we learned about the unique way the farm uses rotational cropping. Dusan, the farm manager, explained that they never grow the same crop in the same place twice. This helps ensure the utmost soil health, combats weed pressure, and deters pests. Adding small grains to their mostly vegetable operation has been a big part of this strategy in the last few years.
Rye, barley, wheat, and corn are all integral as rotational crops, but they also have a second use in Lani’s expanding test kitchen. You might have noticed the milled wheat and corn for sale at the stand (milled by their neighbors at Castle Valley Mill), as well as the baked goods they now sell using their own wheat and corn flours.
Growing grains has allowed Lani's to expand their menu of value added products as they diversify their farm business. Keep a look out for more prepared foods at Lani’s stand in the future! (Their most recent addition being dumplings. Yum!)
Castle Valley Mill
Our next stop was an idyllic spot along the Neshaminy Creek in Bucks County, PA. This historic property has been a mill site since the 1700’s.
Current owner Mark Fischer told us an incredible story about his grandfather, an expert miller who bought the property and stuffed the barns with antiquated equipment he purchased as mills in the region gradually shut down. At a moment when Mark was assessing his professional career, he cleaned out the dilapidated barn only to find that it still contained all of the equipment necessary to run a fully functioning mill. Mark restored the mill, using the skills he gained as an engineer.
A definite highlight of the trip was watching the antique mills in operation, with the belts turning as the drive train powered each piece of equipment, everything working in synchronicity. At one point during the tour, Mark had to leave. He could tell something had changed in the mill just by the sound and vibration.
Using all local wheat, corn, and oats, Castle Valley produces freshly ground grain that maintains all of the nutritional benefits of the whole grain that commodity flours have stripped away.
Lost Bread Co.
Our last stop was at Lost Bread Co. in Philadelphia. By this point in the day, we were famished. Thankfully we were greeted by Alex Bois and his crew with warmth and hospitality. They immediately offered us their famous garlicky focaccia with local sunflower oil for dipping. Later we sat down with a beautiful spread of foraged mushrooms, ratatouille, and, of course, lots of bread.
Lost Bread Co., a new addition to the Greenmarket community, was founded on the principle of using local grain. Alex is a highly adaptable baker, a necessary quality, he explains, in a climate changing world. He understands the connection between the choice of ingredients and the impact on farms and families. Alex discussed his true goal in all of this to not only feed people, but also nourish communities with affordable and nutritionally dense breads.
Grainstand staff decided Alex's enthusiasm was another highlight of the trip, "It's inspiring to see people who have such a deep commitment to what they are doing, and are willing to try things and learn."
Our retail booth for local grains, flours and beans
Union Square Greenmarket, Wednesdays and Saturdays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Articles that both inform and shed light on our work.