- En Español
- About us
- Sign In
- For Members
Grains might be considered latecomers to the local foods movement, but they’ve arrived and they’re changing the way many communities think about ﬂavor and ﬂour. The local grain renaissance that’s making its mark, particularly throughout the Northeast and along the West Coast, is helping to connect consumers more closely with producers, millers, and artisan bakers.
Many of the farmers involved in local and specialty grain production are interested in growing something people can’t ﬁnd on their grocery shelves, which has led to an expanding interest in heritage grain varieties. Perhaps one of the most signiﬁcant beneﬁts to these heirloom grains is ﬂavor—what Dr. Stephen Jones at the Bread Lab calls the terroir of the grain. Instead of growing to maximize yield, farmers growing outside a commodity system can focus on growing varieties that produce much nuttier, sweeter, earthier ﬂours than the all-purpose wheat ﬂour we’re used to.
The full ﬂavor of these grains is being explored and celebrated by bakers, chefs, and consumers alike, which is why it’s no surprise that whole grains are front-and-center in the local grains movement. Once you’ve committed to growing or purchasing heritage grains, it would be somewhat counter-intuitive then to reﬁne and strip away the unique ﬂavors of those carefully cultivated kernels. Beyond all the well-known health beneﬁts that whole grains oﬀer, their superior taste makes them hugely appealing—and heirloom grains, bred for ﬂavor, take these culinary beneﬁts of whole grains to the next level.
When we started learning about all the small-scale, local grain production happening in communities around the country, we decided to lend a hand by creating a hub of resources to help draw and strengthen the connections between consumers and the local or regional grain economies developing around them. We invite you to explore our Local Grains Map to ﬁnd farmers and millers near you participating in this local grain renaissance.
GRAIN ECONOMY RESOURCES
Looking for more details about local grain projects, resources, and books? Here’s a list of many of our favorites:
- The Bread Lab Plant Breeding Program at Washington State University — The Bread Lab researches wheat, barley, buckwheat, and other grains, identifying varieties that are especially well-suited in taste and ﬂavor proﬁle to applications in craft baking, cooking, malting, brewing, and distilling.
- The Colorado Grain Chain (Boulder, CO) and the UCCS Grain School (Colorado Springs, CO) are great resources for grain growers, millers, scientists and professionals — especially those in the Colorado area. They also host the UCCS Grain School, which oﬀers both a college level academic course as well as open public forums about whole grain farming, whole grains and health, and the local grain community.
- The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group — This group works to promote sustainable agriculture in the Northeast region and acts as a network of over 500 organizations and thousands of individuals in 12 states.
- The Greenhorns — This organization works to support and recruit new farmers and provide resources (ﬁlms, radio, guidebooks, almanacs, anthologies, etc.) to teach sustainable agriculture, restorative land practices, and skill-building.
- GrowNYC Grains— This project is focused on increasing both supply and demand for local grains in the Northeast region. Since 2009, all baked products sold through the GrowNYC Greenmarkets have been required to contain at least 15% locally grown and milled ﬂour.
- Heritage Grain Trust (UK) — This organization works to encourage the production and use of heritage grains in the UK.
- Maine Grain Alliance — This group works to support the Maine grain economy through a seed restoration project and by hosting an annual Kneading Conference along with several other hands-on workshops throughout the year. They also award need-based technical assistance grants to help grain-based businesses in Maine.
- Meadows Mills in North Carolina — Meadows Mills is a manufacturer and supplier of mill stones and other milling parts and equipment.
- Northern Grain Growers Association in Vermont — This organization includes growers, maltsters, bakers, and grain enthusiasts all working to promote locally grown grains.
- Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project in Southern California — The project aims to preserve and grow organic heritage grains which are naturally drought tolerant.
- USDA NRCS Plants Database — This national database allows users to search by crop or species and ﬁnd where in the US it’s being grown. The database also provides descriptive information about the plant and its place of origin.
- USDA’s National Small Grains Collection — The NSGC is a genebank that collects grain germplasm from around the globe and distributes seed freely to scientists. Their collection includes strains of wheat, barley, oats, rice, rye, triticale, and a variety of wild relatives.
- Additionally, historic mills oﬀer insight and perspective into the history of regional grain systems and can act as a resource for those interested in learning more.
- The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food by Dan Barber
- The New Bread Basket: How the New Crop of Grain Growers, Plant Breeders, Millers, Maltsters, Bakers, Brewers, and Local Food Activists Are Redeﬁning Our Daily Loaf by Amy Halloran
- Small-Scale Grain Raising: An Organic Guide to Growing, Processing, and Using Nutritious Whole Grains for Home Gardeners and Local Farmers by Gene Logsdon
- Grain by Grain: A Quest to Revive Ancient Wheat, Rural Jobs, and Healthy Food by Bob Quinn and Liz Carlisle
- A Guide to Northeast Grains by Kristina Razon
- Restoring Heritage Grains: The Culture, Biodiversity, Resilience, and Cuisine of Ancient Wheats by Eli Rogosa
We’d love to hear from you and learn about the farms, mills, malthouses, and grain projects happening in your backyard. Email us and tell us about the local grains making it to your table! (Caroline)
To have our Oldways Whole Grains Council blog posts (and more whole grain bonus content!) delivered to your inbox, sign up for our monthly email newsletter, called Just Ask for Whole Grains.