Thursday, April 10, 2014

Community Garden Grain

Seven varieties of wheat are growing, side-by-side, in Westchester's  Emerson Avenue Community Garden, located on the grounds of Orville Wright Middle School.  Two land race varieties mark the far end of the row. 

India Jammu                                            Sonora                      
On the left is India Jammu, developed by farmers in northern India.  Grist & Toll  contributed the seed for this planting. 

On the right is soft white Sonora, grown from seed contributed by Kenter Canyon Farms.  

Sonora, with India Jammu in the background

You can see the relative pace of development in these different varieties.  At this stage, the India Jammu, in the background, is taller.  The Sonora shows a shorter, more dense growth.

 Plots just to the north include varieties from Russia and Brazil, along with Emmer and an ancient Black Einkorn.

Timopheevi             Emmer                Brazilian Lavras                Vavilov              Black Einkorn 
Timopheevi, also known as Zanduri, is widely grown in Russia's western Georgia region.  A hard red tetraploid wheat, first domesticated in southern Turkey.  Like its ancestors, Timopheevi is a hulled wheat.   Bluebird Grain Farms provided organic seed for the Emmer plot which is developing well and showing colorful pseudo stems.
Timopheevi                                                   Emmer                            
Brazilian Lavras                                      Vavilov   

Brazilian Lavras is an amber wheat, with a reputation for growing to more than six feet. 

Vavilov, a  hard red winter wheat dates from the 1920s and is named for Nikolai Vavilov, likely to be the man who developed it, and certainly one of the world's foremost agronomists and plant breeders. 

During a time of enormous need for his country, Vavilov sent out 140 expeditions from Russia to 40 countries, assembling a collection of more than 200,000 species.  He was a leader in restoring Russia's ability to feed  its people.  Ironically, he was caught up in Stalinist purges and died of starvation in the gulag.  Vavilov wheat is considered rare and is being grown and evaluated by seed companies and universities.

Black Einkorn, considered the oldest cultivated wheat, is not widely grown today. 

 It has a reputation for doing well on poor soils and is known for its flat black seed heads.    In the Emerson garden it has yet to develop much height, but if it sets heads, we expect those ancient berries will be a challenge to unhusk.

You can visit the garden and see the wheat plots on school days from 4pm to sunset and on weekends from 9am to sunset.      The wheat demonstration plots are related to Dana Morgan's LA School Wheat Project which gives students the opportunity to plant, grow, and harvest wheat, right in their school gardens.  For more info about the LA School Wheat Project contact:


  1. This is encouraging and exciting to see. Thanks for posting. I also have wheat growing in Westchester in a JackPot grow bag. It's Sonora and is now 10 weeks old with seed heads just showing this week. I will stop by EACG to appreciate your wheat firsthand.

    1. Kathy: That is great to hear. Home grown grain seems to come along so quickly. It must prosper from your encouragement and care.
      School days the garden can be visited from 4pm to sunset. Weekends, 9 to sunset.