Thursday, December 16, 2010

Some great news and how you can help

We have been awarded a grant!

And not simply the kind of grant that covers feasibility studies or travel or personnel; no, although all of the above have been instrumental along the way, this particular grant we just received (!) is by far the most action-packed in its ability to produce tangible, material, physical results. The grant we just received is from NC Market Ready, a program of the NC Cooperative Extension, and it will pay for HALF the cost of all of our equipment! That means HALF the cost of our mill, bucket elevator, and bolter (as mentioned earlier in this blog, the use of the mill has been gifted to us by the estate of Alan Scott, but with the understanding that we would purchase the mill from the Scott family as soon as we are able), a moisture/test weight meter, sampling probe, bench scale, portable bag sewer and suspension system. The total cost of the equipment is around $36,500, so, in terms of equipment, we are now halfway there!

At the same time Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, the non-profit organization that made our project possible when, back in 2008, director Roland McReynolds called me up out of the blue and said he had heard about the proposal I was working on to organize bakers in WNC to work directly with growers. He said his organization wanted to take on our project—get it funded and see it through. And he did. Roland took what I had written and gave it greater breadth and vision. This was no longer just about a group of bakeries in the western region of the state. This was and is about food security and sustainability and regional food systems. So, (as I was saying), Carolina Farm Stewardship Association was recently approached by an anonymous donor with the challenge that it they raise $50,000 by December 31st, this donor will pledge a matching $50,000 donation. The challenge was made right before CFSA’s 25th annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference (the largest sustainable ag conference in the Southeast), which was last weekend with 900(!) people in attendence. (I was one of the many presenters at the conference.) Thus far, they are 2/3rds of the way toward their goal of $50k by Dec 31st.

So here’s the double bang—donations to CFSA can be earmarked for the NC Organic Bread Flour Project. If you would like to help us raise the other half of our equipment costs, while at the same time help CFSA meet their $50k challenge, this is a really exciting end of the year tax-deductible donation.

And it's easy. Just visit cfsa’s website, www.carolinafarmstewards.org, and click on the ‘Donate Now’ button to make a tax deductible donation today. And please indicate (if you feel moved) that the donation be earmarked for the NC Organic Bread Flour Project.

Thanks so much folk.

Truly from the ground up,

jennifer

Friday, October 29, 2010

Carolina Ground, L3C-- it's official!

After wheat prices spiked in 2008, it became more than evident to the bakers here in western NC (and beyond our borders-- see blog post dated 5/25/09) that the gaping distance between the baker and farmer had run its course. Clearly, the commodities market cared little for either the farmer or baker, or an honest loaf of bread, for that matter. In regards to the price spike, at the time the news reported floods in Northern Europe, drought in Australia, the displacement of wheat with corn for ethanol, but in Harper’s recent July 2010 article "Food Bubble How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it" author Fredrick Kaufman eloquently delineates what else happened,

…in 1991 nearly everything else that could be recast as a financial abstraction had already been considered. Food was pretty much all that was left. And so with accustomed care and precision, Goldman’s analysts went about transforming food into a concept. They selected eighteen commodifiable ingredients and contrived a financial elixir that included cattle, coffee, cocoa, corn, hogs, and a variety or two of wheat. They weighted the investment value of each element, blended and commingled the parts into sums, then reduced what had been a complicated collection of real things into a mathematical formula that could be expressed as a single manifestation, to be known thenceforward as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index. Then they began to offer shares.

~

The first meeting of the NC Organic Bread Flour Project took place in February 2009-- seven bakeries and one spent baker (me) pulled our chairs into a circle and began discussing the possibility of existing outside the commodities market-- the possibility of establishing direct relationships with growers. Everyone agreed that the grower should get the best possible price for his/her grain, but at an affordable cost to the baker. The mill could be the entity to make this happen.

About a year into this project and many meetings later, a discussion ensued amongst this group of bakeries about whether this mill ought to be for profit or not for profit. One of the smaller bakeries voiced the concern that if the mill was not driven by profit, it may loose the incentive to press on into the future; another bakery responded that profit alone would never be enough of an incentive, and that to ensure the longevity of this future mill, it would need to be sustained by something bigger than simply profit. This mill would enable our many bakeries to become more sustainable; it would allow for long-term relationships to be established between growers and bakers, with the hope of building our knowledge base of local grains —both in the field and in the bakery.

But still, a non-profit mill?

I sought assistance from Wake Forest’s Business and Law Clinic and UNC Chapel Hill's Center for Sustainable Enterprise. We examined the coop model, felt as a legal entity it was too restrictive, and learned through a conference call with a number of growers on the line that joining a coop was of no interest to them, although they would be happy to sell grain to the mill.

After four teams of law students and two teams of business students, along with my own networking and research, we finally arrived at the answer to the question that we struggled with-- how to define this mill, legally. And now it's official-- we are registered with the State of North Carolina as Carolina Ground, L3C.

Most of you are probably scratching your heads wondering what an L3C is… and that is to be expected. It is a fairly new entity, just signed into law in NC in August 2010, initially established in Vermont in 2008 (to my knowledge, thus far L3Cs can be formed in: Michigan, Vermont, Illinois, Wyoming, Utah, Louisiana, North Carolina, and the Indian Crow Nation and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.)

An L3C is a sort of hybrid between an LLC and a 501 C-3, in other words, it is a mission-driven for-profit business; it's also know as a "low-profit" company. Carolina Ground, L3C will be structured as a bakers' owned co-op mill, but incorporated as an L3C. Because what we hope to accomplish with this mill is to enable the farmer to get the best possible price for his/her grain at an affordable cost to the baker-- to exist outside the commodities market-- it is our stakeholders -- the farmer and the baker-- that we want to see thrive, not necessarily the mill; although we need the mill to do well, exist in the black, provide jobs, ect... The L3C felt like the perfect fit for us and I think it is going to conjure a lot of dialogue (hopefully) about the way we do business-- a triple bottom line approach (with economic, social, and ecological value) whose ecological and social value are the direct benefits of keeping it local.

Harper’s author Fredrick Kaufman describes Wall Street bankers whose riches did not come from the sale of real things like wheat or bread but from the manipulation of ethereal concepts like risk and collateralized debt.

Carolina Ground, L3C, dedicated to grains grown and ground on Carolina ground is real and tangible. From seed to loaf, we are working to rebuild sustainability in our communities.

from the ground up,

jennifer

Friday, October 22, 2010

Update: the mill and the grain and the legal entity






We've finally got the motors for the mill and our stellar electricians-- Jesse and Donny (pictured above)-- are busy at work installing them!
Also, the pilot group of bakeries are engaged in bake tests of a few different varieties of wheat from Dr David Marshall's Uniform Bread Wheat trials.
The above photo is from Farm and Sparrow Breads. He hand sifted this wheat (I milled the grain in my 12" Jansen Gristmill). This variety of wheat has not yet been released to the public-- it is ARS05-1044. Yes, it sounds like something from Brave New World, but no, this is not genetic modification, it is just old school modern breeding practices-- public varieties developed via a public servant. The profile on the grain, btw, for those of you that want the nitty-gritty details, according to the USDA-ARS in Raliegh are: test wieght- 58.4#; protein- 14.4; falling numbers- 272; and hardness- 78
Next post: Carolina Ground as a legal entity and planting season...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Know Your Farms Charlotte Area Farm Tour




I got a call the other day from Buddy Hofner. Buddy is a dairy farmer, part of the Organic Valley Co-op. Actually, my understanding is that Buddy happily passed the dairy onto his son when his son was old enough, and now Buddy is a grain grower, growing the feed for the cows. The Hofner's farm, a four generation farm, is located in Salisbury which is in the western piedmont of NC. In 2008, when wheat prices shot up and availability plunged, Buddy for the first time, sold his organic soft wheat to Bay State Milling in Morresville, NC, as food grade (for flour), not feed grade.
So Buddy called me up the other day to tell me about the Know Your Farms 2nd annual Charlotte area farm tour taking place September 18th and 19th. His farm is one of 27 farms on the farm tour map. He asked me what I thought about coming to their farm and doing some on-farm milling of their organic soft wheat to sell to folks coming on the tour. Sounds like fun, but lets try the wheat first, to know what we've got. So his wife, on her way back from Waynesville the following weekend, dropped a bucket of grain off on my front porch in Asheville; well, she thought it was my front porch. I did eventually find the bucket of grain one block up, on someone else's porch. SO I got the grain and took it down to Old Fort, where I had heard John McEntire of Peaceful Valley Farm had just gotten a Farmstead seed cleaner.
I met John early one morning and we tried out his new cleaner. After a few adjustments and input from his 94 year old uncle, we got the grain pretty clean. We both noticed a few dirt clods in the grain and discussed the merits of cutting high when combining one's wheat (John successfully grew 4 acres of Turkey Red, a heritage variety of wheat, this past growing season. We hope he will be planting more wheat this fall and some rye.)
With my clean grain back in the bucket, a couple days later I headed out to Madison County where the remains of my Natural Bridge Bakery live and I milled the wheat on my 12" diameter stone Jansen gristmill. The grain milled beautifully. It is soft wheat, which is traditionally used for cookies and pastries (hard wheat is traditionally used for bread.) I divided the flour into a few different sacks, and passed a sack on to Dave Bauer of Farm and Sparrow Bakery and Cathy Cleary of Westend Bakery. I made cookies and scones. The flour worked well. Cathy reported "We made scones yesterday and today with the wheat - and they were AWESOME. The flavor was great! . Yesterday we made peach ginger and today was blackberry. The peach ones rose really well and had a delicate texture." And Dave's report, "I bolted the soft wheat flour and we made a pastry crust with it and tonight made peach tarts with Barry's peaches. It made an exquisite rustic tart. We were all surprised at how flavorful yet unbitter it was."
So, next weekend I am heading back out to Madison County to crack open my little mill-- it's a 8" diameter stone Jansen gristmill-- blow it out with the compressor and get it ready to take over to Salisbury on the 18th.
from the ground up,
jennifer

Friday, August 13, 2010

that last post

sorry folks, I did not realize the link I provided in the last post was not going to take one to the full article unless one is a subscriber to Harpers. I am happy to email anyone interested in the pdf version of the article. Just send me an email through this blog and I will email back the article.

An article worth reading: The Food Bubble How Wall Street Starved Millions and Got Away With It

The idea for the North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project came about when, back in 2008, the price of wheat hit the roof. At it's worst wheat prices rose as much as 130% and bakers were left to swallow much of that increase, only able to pass on to the customer a fragment of their heightened costs, as an honest loaf of bread must be affordable. So this is when bakers came together here in WNC and began the conversation of reviving this age-old but long forgotten link between the farmer, the miller, and the baker.
The July issue of Harper's ran a story that sheds light on how far we had strayed from that simple link: the farmer, the miller, and the baker. In light of the current potential wheat deficit scare, with Russia's ban on wheat exports and Ukraine soon to follow, I thought it timely to post this worthy read: The Food Bubble. How Wall Street Starved Millions and Got Away With It

Friday, July 23, 2010

A big THANK YOU (more pix!)

A big THANK YOU to all the restaurants: Biltmore House Bistro, Early Girl, Jack of the Wood, Laughing Seed, Laurey's Catering, Sunny Point Cafe, Corner Kitchen, Luellas and Zambras; the breweries: Asheville Brewing Co, Craggy Brewery, the Lexington Ave Brewery, and French Broad Brewery; and the bakeries: Farm & Sparrow and Wake Robin Farm Breads. Also, thank you to both Greenlife and Earthfare for sides. A big thanks to Hickory Nut Gap Farm and East Fork Farm for pork and lamb. And thank you to the French Broad Food Co-op for the use of your tents. And of course-- thank you thank you Asheville Slow Food for making this happen.
Pix provided by Nicholas Hazen Hunter, hazenhunter.com.




A big THANK YOU






A big thank you to all the businesses and individuals that made the Slow Food Beer & BBQ Fundraiser for the NCOBFP such a success. Pictures proved by Nicholas Hazen Hunter, www.hazenhunter.com.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Slow Food Beer & BBQ Fundraiser for the NC Organic Bread Flour Project

Slow Food Beer & BBQ Fundraiser for the
North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project!

Come join us on Saturday, July 17th from 5p.m. til 8p.m. for a Beer & BBQ fundraiser with proceeds going to the North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project. This event will be in West Asheville, outside, in the grassy area next to West End Bakery.


Many thanks to our farmers: Hickory Nut Gap Farm and East Fork Farm for providing pork and lamb for this fundraiser. Luellas, Corner Kitchen, and Zambras have volunteered to cook the meat. Donations of sides are coming from: Early Girl Eatery, Jack of the Wood, Laughing Seed, Laurey’s Catering, Sunny Point CafĂ©, Earthfare, Biltmore House Bistro Restaurant, and Greenlife. Beer has been donated by Asheville Brewing Company, Lexington Ave Brewery (LAB), Craggie Brewery and French Broad Brewery. And a big thank you to the French Broad Food Coop for supplying the tents to allow this event to be outside. (Please bring blankets or chairs to sit on.)

Tickets are $20 in advance, they can be purchased at West End Bakery or purchased on-line at Brown Paper Tickets or $25 at the door.


The North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project is an initiative of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association with funding from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. With the goal of linking the farmer and baker in North Carolina, NCOBFP is laying the groundwork for the future Carolina Ground Flour Mill, dedicated to grains grown and ground on Carolina ground. Although North Carolina has not traditionally been a hard (bread) wheat growing state, since 2002 the USDA has been conducting hard wheat trials throughout the state and the results have been quite encouraging, both in the field and in the bakery. For the last year and a half this project has been driven by a core group of seven bakeries in the WNC region-- Annies, West End, Farm & Sparrow, Flat Rock Village Bakery, Loafchild, Wildflour, and Wake Robin.

If you cannot make it to the fundraiser but would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to this endeavor, please go to the CFSA website http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/, click on the store tab on the left hand side which will take will take you to a place where you can donate directly to the North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project.



Monday, July 12, 2010

2010 NC-Grown Organic Wheat Workshop—from field to bread











One hundred and thirty varieties of wheat, twenty varieties of barley, and twenty-five varieties of oats formed a patchwork of various shades of amber. A crowd of us gathered amongst these trial plots of grain on June 17th at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, NC. We gathered to view the plots and to hear from Dr David Marshall, wheat breeder from the USDA-ARS; Sharon Funderburk, organic crop consultant; Molly Hamilton, Organic Grain Project, NCSU; and Jennifer Lapidus (me), NC Organic Bread Flour Project.
Dr Marshall began the talk by providing a bit of background, explaining the impetus for the Uniform Bread Wheat Trials, launched in 2002, when someone from Bay State Milling in Morresville, NC, asked him if hard wheat could be grown in the Carolinas. At the time, he was doubtful. NC traditionally grows soft wheat (hard wheat is typically used for bread, whereas soft wheat is mostly used for cakes, pastries, crackers, and some flat breads). But trials began with selections from any available hard wheat varieties they could get their hands on, and plots were planted from the panhandle of Florida all the way up to central Pennsylvania. The USDA-ARS partnered with a program in New Zealand so they could accelerate the program by getting two generations of wheat per year. Since 2002, about 1000 crosses have been made each year, breeding for disease resistance, yield, and quality (baking quality which addresses things like protein, and resistance to sprouting in the field-- which dramatically affects performance in the bakery). Dr Marshall's crosses are all old school natural breeding (as opposed to gmo, which modifies genes between different species). All the genes Dr Marshall works with are within the wheat family. And all his breeds can be traced back to the Fertile Crescent where wheat originated.
Thus far, three varieties have been released: TAM 303, NuEast, and Appalachian White. The varieties are widely adapted, the first two have done well grown from North Georgia all the way to Pennsylvania; the latter does not grow as well down south but grows best from NC north (these varieties were not planted north of PA in the trials, thus he did not address performance for the NE.)
Dr Marshall answered questions regarding harvest, storage, moisture, commercial availability of seed, and taste: Harvest is to occur somewhere between 13-14% moisture; storage was recommended at 13% and below, ideally 12 % moisture. And aeration in one's storage is ideal. The NuEast and Appalachian White were provided to the North Carolina Foundation Seed Service last year to be grown out for seed, though harvest had just occurred the previous week and he could not say how much seed would be available. Taste is a difficult quality for the breeder to access, as baking techniques differ, but the NC Organic Bread Flour Project intends to develop a survey for their participating bakeries to use when testing flour; this survey will need to address baking methods-- straight dough vs sponge, yeasted vs naturally-leavened, etc...
As a group we proceeded to tour through the trial plots of wheat, oats, and barley. Amongst the wheats Dr Marshall began with the oldest of the varieties planted: Mediterranean, and then moving up about fifty years, to a variety that is about 200-250 years old, a selection out of Mediterranean known as Federation. He then pointed out Coastal and Coker 57-6, which he explained, represent, among tall, standard height varieties (pre-dwarf or semi dwarf), state of the art varieties grown commercially on the east coast in the 1940s and 50s; these varieties were bred soft wheats (as opposed to the older varieties-- Mediterranean and Federation-- that predate the distinction between hard and soft). Next, Dual, similar to Coastal and Coker 57-6, and then Red Fife, which was a variety released out of Canada around 1900-1910, brought over by the Mennonites. Red Fife has hard wheat qualities (higher protein). He then pointed out the modern varieties, considerably shorter than the older varieties, the result of the work of Norman Borlaug and the mainspring of the Green Revolution. And then we arrived at his wheats-- TAM 303, NuEast, Appalachian White, and 5 or 6 lines of very similar hard red wheat that have all been very successful with very good lodging resistance (lodging is when the wheat falls over, making it difficult to harvest), high yield, and a very good disease package. He expects his next line to be released to come from this selection of wheats.
He spoke about mixing time-- one of the qualities they select for. He shoots for mix times around three and a half to four minutes-- from the time flour and water are mixed together to when this mixture becomes a dough. Shorter mix times can be a problem, as the dough can fall apart. He pointed out one variety of wheat with a seven minute mix time, which may be favorable to a baker.
He led us to a plot of grain that appeared less mature that its surrounding wheat-- spelt--and admitted they have done very little work on spelt and have no recommendations about growing or fertilization rate or seeding rate. Molly Hamilton chimed in that starting this fall, the Organic Grain Project will begin work on organic spelt production with NC State so they can have research-based recommendations for NC growers. The growing will be in the eastern part of the state and maybe in the piedmont as well. They will be looking at seeding rates, fertility, and harvest efficiency. She added that organic dairies in NC are interested in feed grade spelt with the hull on because of the nutritional factor.
Dr Marshall also led our group to the barley and oat plots where the conversation naturally led toward the possibility of malting barley for the many micro breweries in NC (13 in WNC; at least 30 in the state) [but, more on that later...]
After the tour of grains, we gathered under the shade of the EZ-up and Sharon asked the group if they had any specific concerns regarding growing grain. Molly Hamilton gave a brief overview of the Organic Grain Project and mentioned the North Carolina Organic Grain Production Guide which is available online for download. And I gave a bit of an update of the NC Organic Bread Flour Project (more on that later.)


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Thanks to all for coming out and supporting our Bread for Bread Bake Sale


Thanks to all for coming out to support our Bread for Bread Bake Sale. We didn't know how much bread to bring, afraid of bringing too much bread, but the bread went, and quick. We were all too busy selling bread to capture any 'before' pictures of tables piled high with loaves. After the crowd subsided, I got a few pix of our empty tables...
We hope to do this again in the fall with some actual NC-grown wheat...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bread for Bread Bake Sale

The North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project presents, in conjunction with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and the North Asheville Tailgate Market:


Bread for Bread Bake Sale!

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

8 a.m. to Noon

at the North Asheville Tailgate Market on UNCA campus

Seven Western North Carolina bakeries:

Annie's Naturally, Farm & Sparrow Breads, Flat Rock Village Bakery, Loafchild Breads, Wake Robin Farm Bread, Wildflour Bakery, West End Bakery, and Natural Bridge Bakery will join together in a bake sale to raise money for our future Carolina Ground Flour Mill, a mill devoted to Carolina grains, grown and ground on Carolina ground. All proceeds from bread sales will be donated to this milling endeavor.

Our goal is to raise at least $5000 to pay for the bare essentials necessary to launch into the production-level testing and product development phase essential to this project. It’s gonna take a lot of bread to raise the needed bread, so please come out and support this effort.

For more info: jennifer@carolinafarmstewards.org

Thursday, May 27, 2010

NC-Grown Organic Wheat Workshop—from field to bread

The North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project presents, in conjunction with Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and with funding from the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission:

NC-Grown Organic Wheat—from field to bread

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

at the Mountain Research Station, Waynesville, NC

On June 17th, 2010 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville, NC, the North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project in conjunction with CFSA and NCTTFC, will host NC-Grown Organic Wheat—from field to bread. USDA-ARS wheat breeder Dr. David Marshall will provide an overview of the bread wheat trials planted at the station, and will discuss varieties of hard wheat that grow well in NC and their quality components. Organic crop consultant Sharon Funderburk will follow Dr. Marshall’s talk, providing organic methods in addressing fertility concerns and/or other issues that can be addressed in the field to ensure a food quality crop. Molly Hamilton, Extension Assistant, NCSU, will give an overview of the North Carolina Organic Grain Project and the services they provide. And lastly, Jennifer Lapidus, project coordinator of the North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project will discuss the project, its timeline, its bakers, and the mill.

This workshop is free and open to the public.

Registration is requested. To register for the workshop, go to: http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/ and register at the on-line store.

Date: Thursday, June 17, 2010

Time: 9:00am – 10:30am

Location: Mountain Research Station

265 Test Farm Rd
Waynesville, NC 28786

(828) 456-3943

Concerns or questions? Contact the NCOBFP Coordinator, Jennifer Lapidus, at 828-768-0153 or email jennifer@carolinafarmstewards.org.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Continuing Support

Our UNC-Chapel Hill STAR team just completed their semester-long focus on our seed-to-loaf initiative and have concluded that our concept-- to center our endeavor on the growing consumer demand for local, thus existing outside the commodities market with the goal of providing the farmer the best possible price for his/her grain at an affordable cost to the baker-- is viable. (I will post more detailed info on this soon...)
Also, I'd just like to share the good news that the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission has awarded our project additional funding for business planning and consultation with UNC Chapel Hill's Center for Sustainable Enterprise, as well as two days of on-the-ground mill flow consultation from Kansas State University associate director of International Grains Program, Mark Fowler, and finally, for the purchase of the 5-unit Correspondence Course in Flour Milling by the International Association of Operative Millers Association, to have as an educational resource onsite for improved knowledge in flour milling and grain processing and handling.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Bakeries

Although, thus far this blog has spoken to the history, ideology, and progress toward regional grain initiatives, and specifically to this NC organic hard wheat initiative linking the farmer and the baker, there has been very little mention of the actual bakeries involved. So, with no further adieu, let me introduce the bakeries:

Annie's Naturally Bakery, Flat Rock Village Bakery, Farm & Sparrow , Loafchild, Wake Farm Robin Breads, Westend Bakery , and Wildflour Bakery .

For the last year, these seven bakeries have met as a group every couple months discussing the sustainability of locally-grown organic wheat, and the benefits of a successful micro milling facility devoted to organic NC grains. Benefits identified: the potential for a beautiful, unique product; security for their most essential ingredient; and the ability to have a working relationship with the grower(s). Their fears: quality, consistency, a bad harvest. They all tried the 2009 NC wheat harvest of two wheat varieties from NC's USDA-ARS wheat breeder, Dr David Marshall, and they were delighted with their baking results. I have watched these bakers come together over the last year, as their enthusiasm for this project has evolved from an idea to something real and tangible, something they could bring back into their bakeries and work with. Their continued commitment to this idea and their growing enthusiasm has been vital to the sustained momentum toward a NC organic bread flour. Especially since the arrival of the mill, the enthusiasm keeps growing.

We hope to begin working with the mill, doing trial runs and bake tests with different grains beginning this Spring, and although this past Fall was one of the wettest on record, and many growers were unable to get into their fields to plant their wheat, our hope is to get enough NC grown hard and soft wheat to really see what this mill can do and see what the bakeries come up with...

In the meanwhile, we are spending the winter working on details not quite as appetizing as grain to flour, flour to dough, dough to hearth... this winter we are looking at numbers. Because we intend to treat NC-grown hard wheat as an agricultural product (and not a commodity), centering our endeavor on the growing consumer demand for local, we have been fortunate to have sparked the interest of UNC Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School and have been assigned a team of MBA students from their Student Teams Achieving Results (STAR) Program. The STAR team is working with us this semester to provide a comprehensive value-systems analysis of organic hard wheat in the state from seed to loaf, determining both what the value of wheat is as it goes through its numerous stages to becoming a loaf of bread (plant, cultivate, harvest, clean, store, mill...) as well as what other potential services and needs exist within the value chain of seed to loaf in NC. Okay, so this doesn't sound quite as enticing as a golden crust and the scent of fresh bread made with NC grown organic wheat... but it is no less important. Our hope is to see that the farmer get the best possible price for his/her grain at an affordable cost to the baker.

Etre bon comme du bon pain. To be as good as good bread.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Mill has arrived

The Mill has finally arrived.

When it first left Austria for Tasmania, Australia, it was mistakenly sent to Tanzania. Its records show a journey that involved passage through Denmark, East Midlands, UK, Leipzig, Germany, back to East Midlands(?), London's Heathrow, Sydney, AU, to Hobart, Tasmania... and then
Hobart to
Melbourne onto a ship bound for Long Beach, CA. Other items on the boat with the Mill: stamped metal coins/tokens; safety products; personal effects; vine labels; Zusralian canned abalone; Zustralian wine; drum of parsley herb oil; craftwares; ergologics corkscrew; screw compressor; machine parts returned to supplier; saltwater spares...

Upon arrival in Long Beach, the Mill was put through numerous examinations before it was placed onto a railcar, bonded, for Charlotte, NC. It took only 5 days for the Mill to cross this country by rail, but the check from NCSU to pay for all the processing and shipping charges took 10 days to get to Long Beach, so the customs warehouse in Charlotte kept the Mill hostage, until the check finally arrived. The NC Research Stations arranged to have the Mill picked up. The Salisbury Station did the initial pick up and brought it back to the Station, and then the Waynesville Station came with a flatbed rollback. We all expected the Mill to have been in a crate, but no, it was just on a pallet, exposed for all to see as they drove from Salisbury all the way to Asheville.

What a sight.








Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2010 Commercial Organic Crop Conference: presentation on the bread flour project

Click on the title of this post and then press the "play" button to listen to an NCOBFP presentation at the 2010 Commercial Organic Crop Conference in New Bern, NC 1/15/10.
(It's about 25 minutes long, but quite informative.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

more in the news: Reviving New York State’s Grain Belt

Reviving New York State’s Grain Belt

click on the above title to link to the article. Yes i am a total novice blogger...