Until recently, Vermont dairy farmer Jack Lazor has been an enthusiastic grain famer. The owner of Butterworks Farm, Lazor spent years growing grains—for animals and people—and then wrote a conversational and encyclopedic guide on grain growing in the Northeast The Organic Grain Grower. In person and on the page, the affable man offers advice on tools and practices for grain growing, harvest, and storage. Read more
Stefan Senders of Wide Awake Bakery, just outside of Ithaca, New York, is reacquainting people with local flours. The bakery uses locally grown and ground flour in its breads, and Stefan helps professional and home bakers learn to use these unusual ingredients.
“You have to be reading your dough all the time,” Senders says to students. “This is a romantic question: What does the dough want?” Read more
On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that genetically engineered (GE) wheat–which was planted in trials that ended in 2001 and has not been approved for sale–was found in eastern Oregon. While the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) says the GE wheat is safe to eat, countries like Japan have already halted imports fearing contamination. This has happened before, with rice after traces of unapproved GE strains were found in the 2006 harvest. Read more
“I used to be a faceless producer,” David Rowley said of his last job in conventional agriculture. “We grew two to three tons of tomatoes a week, starting in February. There were six people, no weeds, and no pests.”
At the end of 2000, three things happened that led this farmer from old school ag back to the older school of ag, and into organics and direct marketing. Fuel prices went through the roof, pushing energy costs for the Pennsylvania greenhouses from $15,000 a month to $45,000 a month. A change of management occurred, and most significantly, Rowley got ill and attributed it to pesticides. Read more
Don Lewis fell into flour because of his chickens. Back in the late 1990s, he went to Lightning Tree Farm for organic chicken feed and saw that Alton Earnhart was growing wheat. The farmer offered him a bag of flour, and this piece of wheat history began.
At the time, Lewis sold baked goods featuring his own honey at New York City’s Greenmarkets, so of course he was intrigued by the farmer’s flour. As a result, he began to incorporate local flour into all his products, increasing the percentage he used each year and upping the acreage he asked Earnhart to grow. All the while, Lewis educated consumers about ingredients as he offered samples.
In the early 1980s Lewis used samples to discuss the honey he produced. When he started baking bread with local grains, he also used the belly as a point of mental sale.