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,


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,

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, 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...