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Wide Awake Bakery Case Study Now Available from the Grains Project
January 2, 2016 -- Wide Awake Bakery, one of Ithaca's most innovative bakeries, is the newest subject of GRGP's case study series, helping entrepreneurs who hope to work with regional grains get started.
Small Valley Milling and Valley Malt are the Subjects of Newly Released Case Studies by GRGP and OGRIN
April 22, 2015 -- Curious about how Andrea and Christian Stanley got the idea to start a malthouse and what resources they needed to do it? Do you wonder if you have what it takes to produce emmer and spelt berries for a marketplace that's heating up for these and other local grains? Then you'll want to read our newly released case studies on two of the pioneers in the regional grains movement: the genius maltsters behind Valley Malt and the multi-generational family who built the grains-processing enterprise Small Valley Milling. These case studies play a key role in GRGP's collaboration with Elizabeth Dyck of the Organic Growers Research and Information-Sharing Network to provide much-needed information to entrepreneurs hoping to start careers in food-grade grain processing and baking. 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.
NOFA-NY Golden Carrot Award Goes to GRGP Director June Russell
June Russell shows off her elegant glass-blown Golden Carrot award at the NOFA-NY conference.
Feb. 11, 2015 -- It was indeed the Year of Grains at this year's NOFA-NY Winter Conference: Lakeview Organic's Mary Howell and Klaas Martens won the Farmers of the Year award and gave an incredible keynote speech; a great group of people turned out for the Grains Expo to check out the vendors and hear presenters cover topics from risk management to the basics of organic grain growing to emerging trends in specialty grains and craft products; and perhaps the biggest news of all.... Our very own June Russell won the Golden Carrot Award!
Golden Carrot awards are given each year in recognition of people who have made a significant contribution to the mission of the Northeast Organic Farming Association and the growth of organic farming in New York. The recognition is well deserved and fills the entire GrowNYC staff with pride. June works tirelessly on behalf of growers, millers, bakers and researchers to rebuild the Northeast Grainshed. She is constantly seizing opportunities to connect and educate people, and to ensure chefs and bakers get the grains they need while the farmers supplying them get the support they need. And her work is paying off. Supply is rising, demand is soaring, and new infrastructure and distribution channels come online practically every week. Thank you June!
Farmers and researchers survey a cover crop of small grains on a Field Day in Pennsylvania.
Jan. 14, 2015 -- This year's NOFA-NY conference will celebrate the achievements of the Value-Added Grains Project, a USDA-funded collaboration among a team of tireless and passionate partners to revive the Northeast Grainshed. For what could be the first time, key figures in the movement will gather to look back on the past decades as a time of major growth in regional grains, take stock in what has become possible, and identify the challenges ahead. (So much has happened in 2014 alone!) The regional grains renaissance gains strength by the day, proving the impact of the team's hard work as the grant draws to a close this year. In an exciting sign that regional grains have arrived, the NOFA award for Farmer of the Year will go to grain farmers and GRGP partners Klaas and Mary-Howell Martens of Lakeview Organic. GRGP Director June Russell, who will co-host an action-packed Grains Expo on Friday at the conference, shared her thoughts about the significance of such progress on the NOFA-NY blog. Recalling a lesson she learned from a mentor back in the 90s about the importance of weaving local grains into every aspect of our lives, June writes, "I think he was getting at a message about sustainability on a fundamental level, about feeding the soil, the animals and ourselves in ways that align with our values, bringing full circle the agriculture, the market and the food culture in a way that just might have a shot at sustaining us in the long run."
Tasters and Chefs Weigh in on Differences Between Emmer Varieties During Landmark Emmer Trials and Tastings
Oct. 31, 2014 -- Gramercy Tavern Head Chef Michael Anthony was among the food professionals gathered during a three-day event hosted by GRGP and our partners at Cornell University to compare four different emmer varieties, measuring their qualities for baking, pasta-making, and eating. Certified food grader Liz Clark gave an all-day "sensory training" to a group of selected tasters from the food industry. The purpose was to calibrate their definitions for such descriptors as nutty, sour and chewy -- limiting the possibility for subjective experiences and allowing the group to be as objective as possible. Meanwhile chefs from Sfoglini Pasta and Gramercy Tavern created pasta with the 4 emmer flours, giving feedback to the Cornell researchers that will form one pillar of the final research results. The following day at the Natural Gourmet Institute, the trained tasters convened again for the main event: a five-hour sensory evaluation that had them tasting dozens of samples of cooked whole grain and pasta as they filled out scientific surveys measuring dozens of sensory qualities.
Oct 1, 2014 -- Brooklyn Brewery is now selling Greenmarket Wheat for just $10 on Saturdays at Union Square. Perfect for tailgate parties, picnics, dinner parties, stocking stuffers, Thanksgiving favor bags, you name it. Get yours while supplies last. GrowNYC and GRGP partnered with brewmaster Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery to create Greenmarket Wheat to capture the flavor of regional agriculture in a bottle. The wheat beer is made with raw wheat from North Country Farm in Watertown, NY, Pilsner Barley Malt from Valley Malt in Hadley, MA, and Wildflower Honey from Tremblay Apiaries, Chemung County, NY.
July 29, 2014 -- Grain growers with an eye to the future flocked to Cornell's research farm in Freeville, NY earlier this month for an up-close look at the latest research of specialty, high-value grains. GRGP's June Russell and the region's foremost experts in grain farming explained the challenges and successes of growing these important crops with the potential for bringing us such great bread, beer, whiskey, pasta and more. Long-term grain trials -- of modern and heritage wheats, spelt, and the ancient grains einkorn and emmer -- have been underway in New York and New England since 2011. The purpose is to identify the best varieties for planting in the region's various microclimates and soils, and for developing high-quality flours and whole grains with diverse uses to meet the growing needs of artisan chefs and bakers. Capping off the tour was a demo of a dehulling machine, used to remove the jacket-like hull of certain grains like spelt and emmer. The event was hosted by David Benscher and Gary Bergstrom of Cornell; Elizabeth Dyck from OGRIN; and other partners in the USDA-funded Value-Added Grains Project. With support from USDA's Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Cornell University.
June 17, 2014 - Chefs, buyers, and bakers committed to local grains learned about new varieties of grains and flours last week during a GRGP-sponsored tasting, hosted by Mary Cleaver at her incredible Chelsea restaurant The Green Table. Mary's chefs prepared spelt waffles and breakfast tamales made with local grains; Peter Endriss brought five different loaves from his amazing bakery-restaurant Runner & Stone in Gowanus; and others prepared short breads, crackers and whole cooked berries -- all so tasters could fully appreciate the differences between Red Fife and Lancaster Red, spelt and einkorn, rye and emmer.
May 17, 2014 - She Wolf Bakery is coming to Greenmarket, becoming our second baker making bread with 100 percent local flour. Beginning Saturday, May 24th, at Fort Greene Park, She Wolf will be selling the artisan breads Austin Hall started baking at Roman's restaurant in 2009, including a miche with 100% locally grown and milled flour from Farmer Ground Flour. The first baker to sell loaves with 100% local flour at Greenmarket was Nordic Breads in 2011, which uses 100% whole grain rye in its traditional Finnish Ruis bread. Yet another milestone for GRGP and the entire regional grains movement. And they said it couldn't be done!
Red Fife is Here!
This winter, New York’s first locally grown heritage wheat became commercially available to the city’s bakers and chefs. Known as Red Fife, the variety has been showing up in the most heavenly of places. There’s the delectable, fluffy red fife waffles on offer at City Bakery, (pictured here). And the rich, indulgent red fife focaccia that customers are devouring at Rouge Tomate. The start-up Quinciple recently included the mildly sweet red fife berries in its local food-box delivery to several hundred New Yorkers. And the chef at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House is mixing the berries with rice to boost the fiber and nutrients being served to their diners at the senior center.
"I have been playing with some recipes using wild yeast starters and the red fife flour," said Rouge Tomate Head Chef Jeremy Bearman. "It comes out fantastic." Read more about the arrival of Red Fife to NYC.
Much of the credit goes to the critical mass of organic farmers in Canada who revived Red Fife wheat. They have been preserving the reddish, plump grain since its namesake David Fife first sourced the seed in the 1800s from Ukraine -- where it’s called halychanka. Red Fife was once the baking standard in Canada, until the turn of the 20th century when modern cultivars came into use.
Known for its ability to adapt under a range of growing conditions, Red Fife is a facultative wheat, which means it can be grown as a winter or a spring grain. This crop of Red Fife was grown as a winter wheat by Klass Martens of Lakeview Organic Grains, one of the stalwarts of the regional grains revival. The flour has a lower protein content than most spring varieties, making it perfect for waffles and focaccia as opposed to artisanal breads, which generally require a higher protein content.
There’s lots more Red Fife and other heritage varieties to come. Expect to see more in restaurants, retail stores and bakeries in the near future, as more growers are planting wheat and other grains to feed a growing market in a blossoming regional grains economy.
The Red Fife on the market now is being milled by Champlain Valley Milling and available through Greenmarket Co. as either white or whole wheat flour. For wholesale inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information email email@example.com.
Fortunately, the artisans who gathered in January to evaluate these and other baking qualities were up to the task.
Call it the Grains Olympics.
Tapped by the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project and its partners, a select group of esteemed baker-judges led by award-winning master baker and educator Jeffrey Hamelman met at Wide Awake Bakery in Trumansburg, NY, to score the performances of 7 different flours, each made with a different wheat variety. The scores will be combined with those of three other events -- how well the wheat can be cultivated, how easily it can be processed and milled, and how it tastes in the final loaf.
These trials lie at the heart of a USDA-funded "quality evaluation" that is scrutinizing the characteristics of 300 varieties, from ancient to modern to brand spankin' new. The goal is to equip farmers with the information they need to get into the grains business. The evaluation is a key piece of the “Value-Added Grains Project,” a long-term effort to help revive regional grains economies here and throughout the country.
Check out our Technical Assistance page to see the results!
We are still buzzed from the success of the NYC Brewer’s Choice event in February, hosted by Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s 43 and host of Heritage Radio Network’s Beer Sessions Radio, and held at the Wythe Hotel. This year, the marquee event of NYC Beer Week focused on beer made entirely with malt from New York-grown grains. Over 25 brewers were pouring their truly local specialty IPAs, stouts, ales, and more. Craft brews made with spelt, danko rye and warthog wheat blew our expectations away. And of course we were thrilled to see pints flowing of our own Greenmarket Wheat beer, which we created with Brooklyn Brewery last summer. GRGP helped make the event possible, connecting brewers with the featured maltster, Valley Malt of Hadley, Mass.
Serendipity Single Malt
GRGP witnessed accidental greatness recently during a visit to Breuckelen Distilling, where we sampled a fresh batch of single malt whiskey in the company of the masterminds behind its creation: grain farmer Thor Oechsner, maltsters Andrea and Christian Stanley of Valley Malt, and head distiller and owner Brad Estabrooke.
“That single malt is certainly the most exciting thing we are doing at the moment,” said Brad.
And to think that the malt, which Brad called “perfect,” came from barley that was all but useless after being pounded by the 2013 rains.
Thor credits Andrea for rediscovering the lost art of “providence malting -- an old technique for sprouted barley,” he said. “She is the star here. She saved my crop for Brad. She figured out how to work with it.”
A budding regional grains system at work!
Just a few years ago the sprouted barley would have meant a major loss for Thor. Instead, the flourishing new markets of local malt, local whiskey and local beer mean that Thor can remain financially viable, continue feeding the regional demand for grains, and thrive as one of the region's finest farmers. And thanks to people like Andrea, Christian and Brad, that means we drinkers get to taste those grains in our favorite beers and spirits.
Here’s the story in Andrea’s words….
Visiting Breuckelen was the highlight of our visit to Brooklyn where we were able to see our malt in action. Being in a room together with the farmer and distiller is a rare occurrence for me as I am usually just hanging out with my malt, but not always seeing where it goes.
The backstory of the barley and the malt we made for Brad was really interesting, or at least interesting if you are a malt nerd like me. 2013 was a cruel year for grains in the Northeast. We were plagued with rain in the most inopportune times, especially right when the barley was supposed to be harvested. Thor’s winter barley was beautiful to look at, but under the surface something had happened when all that rain hit it after it had matured. The natural tendency of the barley seed is to sprout and reproduce. However we don’t want this to happen in the field, we want it to happen in the malthouse.
We identified that Thor’s barley had pre-harvest sprouting through a Falling-Numbers test and attempted to malt it with little luck. Textbooks say PHS is a deal breaker for the maltster. The first batches we tried to malt went for animal feed.
Then luck struck in November. The barley/malt/whisky Gods decided to intervene. Through the wisdom of a retired maltster, we learned of an adjusted steep schedule that would allow us to malt this PHS barley. We ran a few test batches, got things sprouting and BA-BAM we were making malt from Thor’s barley. We sent a few tons to Brad at Breuckelen and he was very happy with the results. In fact the lower PH mash that this malt produced was exactly what he wanted for this single malt whisky. Given the crazy turn of events, I think this should be called Serendipity Single Malt.
Join GRGP "Inside the Malthouse" with Andrea Stanley of Valley Malt, featured maltster at this year's Brewer's Choice
NYC Beer Week will throw the spotlight on New York-grown grains during its marquee NYC Brewer's Choice event, when regional brewers will be pouring pints of the specialty beers they created with malted grains grown entirely in the state. As a preview to this first-time extravaganza of truly local beer, the Greenmarket Regional Grains Project invites you Inside the Malthouse with Andrea Stanley, co-founder of Valley Malt in Hadley, Mass. Valley Malt is the first micro-malting facility to operate in the Northeast Region in over a century. Malts from Valley Malt will be featured at this year's Brewer's Choice.
Grain-Processing Workshop from the Value-Added Grains Project Proves Huge Success
When to harvest, how to fix a combine, how to repurpose an old mill -- these were just a few of the juicy tidbits covered at a recent workshop on grain processing, held at the White Frost Farm in Washingtonville, PA. Kit and Cathy Kelley shared tips from their experiences integrating small grains into production on their 39-acre farm, like the challenges of spring-planting and how to grow black emmer in northeastern soils. Renowned grain grower Thor Oechsner gave a hands-on demo on how to maintain a combine and unleash its full potential. Joel Steigman of PA-based Small Valley Milling gave sage advice on producing a flawlessly cleaned and dehulled grain on refurbished equipment.
The event was organized by our partner, Elizabeth Dyck of the Organic Growers' Research and Information-Sharing Network, and co-hosted by PASA as part of the ongoing Value-Added Grains Project, (of which GRGP is a partner). Other experts from the USDA-funded project were on hand, like economist Brian Baker, who explained how grain-growers could turn a nice profit by dehulling and cleaning the grain, and Robert Perry of NOFA-NY, who showed how to repurpose a grain cleaner to make a small-scale dehuller.
You can read more about the event here. Check back for a list of PASA and & NOFA-NY field days on grain production that will be held throughout 2014.
GRGP Partner, The Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society's Farm Breeding Club, Wins Prestigious Prize for Innovations in Seed Breeding
Congratulations to our partners at the NPSAS and their Farm Breeding Club for winning the annual Bush Prize for Community Innovation, a testament to their groundbreaking work in seed-breeding and testing. The breeders at the FBC work closely with farmers to share knowledge and seed stock, creating more and better varieties that are easily accessible by farmers, the "original plant breeders," as the FBC calls them. Despite the moniker, farmer access is increasingly under threat by corporate control of seeds and their genetic material. FBC, a program of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agricultural Society in North Dakota, was given this illustrious award so they can continue their fight for seed sovereignty and sustainability, which benefits the environment, the farmer and the consumer.
Greenmarket Wheat Beer Chosen as Finalist for Good Food Award
The word is out: Good grain = good beer. What better proof than the recent news that Greenmarket Wheat Beer is a finalist for the national Good Food Awards! Congrats to our growers from North Country Farm and Tremblay Apiaries, our maltsters from Valley Malt, and our brewmaster Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery. Cheers!
Greenmarket Farmers Reap Benefits of Cover Crops
More Greenmarket farmers are using cover crops, working small grains into their rotations to suppress weeds and pests and improve water management and soil health. We hear all about the cover cropping of three of those farmers, including how they’re harvesting some new products for market, in these great interviews brought to you by our FARMroots team at GrowNYC.
Baking Video Launches: Baking Bread with Local Flour
Watch our short video, " A Local Grain Renaissance in the Northeast, Part 2: Baking Bread with Local Flour," featuring some of the most skilled and experienced bakers talking about their techniques and the rewards of using local flour.
GrowNYC and Brooklyn Brewery Launch Greenmarket Wheat Beer
GrowNYC and Brooklyn Brewery are excited to announce the launch of Greenmarket Wheat, a beer collaboration between local farmers, maltsters, and brewers that captures the flavor of regional agriculture in a bottle.
Greenmarket Wheat is a wheat beer made with raw wheat from North Country Farm in Watertown, NY, Pilsner Barley Malt from Valley Malt in Hadley, MA, and Wildflower Honey from Tremblay Apiaries, Chemung County, NY. Read more.
A Century of Change in the American Loaf: Or, Where are the Breads of Yesteryear? by Karen Hess. The definitive essay on the transformation of American bread, delivered as a keynote address at the Smithsonian "History of American Bread" symposium. April, 1994.
A Short History of Wheat, The Valley Table Magazine, December 2008
The Rye Bread Project, started in 2010 by Copenhagen-based chef and regional farming advocate Trine Hahnemann to reintroduce heritage rye grains to the northeastern U.S.
Making Wheat Varieties Better Suited to Northeast Conditions for End-Use in Artisanal Products, a 2012 report by Northeast Organic Wheat for Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE).
What's at Stake: Organic Research, the third in a series by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coaliation on the Farm Bill. October 16, 2012
The Organic Grain Grower by Jack Lazor