Hello, and welcome to the Los Angeles Bread Bakers blog! On this blog, we will be chronicling our journey growing wheat in Southern California, discussing the meaning of this endeavor, and explaining both our process and the history behind this important experiment. Look forward to information on California landrace wheat, photographs from planting and—eventually—harvesting, and figures and facts about the project.
One of our goals is to grow “local”
wheat.Here’s another way go local:Plant a Plot of Good Grain! Right in your back yard. Or your front yard or side yards. In pots and window boxes.
Your acreage may not be large,
but wheat is decorative landscaping, good for the soil, a nice garden backdrop,
attractive along walls and fences.
And it is a good start toward
making your yard edible.
Prepare the soil as you would
for garden crops.Plant wheat seeds one
and one-half inches deep, about two inches apart.Experts recommend about 36 seeds per square
foot.Give your plot or pot a thorough
watering to get the seed going, then sit back and enjoy watching it grow.Wheat in the ground needs water only every
couple of weeks, and, unlike that old fashioned lawn, you don’t have to mow it.Wheat will be ready to harvest in 4 to 6
months, but in the meantime, it will put on a nice show.
Do you need a reason to plant
You’ll be helping maintain grain
diversity.You can grow very rare
varieties of wheat, find out how they do in our climate, taste ancient grains
like Emmer or Kamut as a cereal, bowl of grain salad, or a tasty flatbread. You can supply kernels to a seed exchange.(One 3’
by 3’ plot, can grow 2500 seeds.)
Where to get seed?
Bob’s Red Mill grains test as
lively and viable, and they include Spelt, Kamut, and grains like Amaranth
Heirloom & ancient wheat
seed can be purchased from several suppliers:
Rare seed is sold in packets of 300
seeds, enough for ten square feet, or a few large pots.You might be the first in your neighborhood
to harvest Russian Vavilov, Alaskan Spelt, Black Einkorn, or Brazilian Amber.
So join this grass roots
revolution.Grow a patch of wheat.Seed savers and seed banks will thank
you.Your 300 seeds could yield two or three
pounds.Working together we can find
larger plots where we can grow that into three hundred pounds.That half ounce of rare wheat seed has been
multiplied by almost ten thousand, providing enough for a farmer to plant three
acres, and that could yield three tons of that rare wheat seed which cost you,
the initiating grower, $3.50.
You can tell your kids and your
neighbors that you did your part in restoring one of the great wheats of the
Food writers point out that artisanal bread making and
efforts to re-establish local grain-growing are riding on the coat-tails of
specialty heirloom veggies and micro-greens, which have had considerable
success in finding niche markets.However,
a recent internet article on slate.com claims grains and flour pose different
challenges, making it unlikely that small scale grain farmers can make a
go of it financially. The writer,
Alastair Bland, argues that locally grown flour does not taste enough better than
commercial flour to merit the higher cost.Flour is just flour, and one variety does not have greater value than another.
Ah.Let us beg to
differ.We know that locally grown and
milled grains -- heritage, modern, landrace and ancient grains -- bring us a far better taste experience.Varieties of flavors, sweetness, sourness,
nuttiness, freshness.Bread that is a complete
experience, leaving your palate satisfied, balanced, with complex lingering
flavors.This is bread that doesn’t need
apologies or a drink to get rid of a dry aftertaste.This is bread that is refreshing and
But it’s not just taste that is improved.Wheat from local sources can be – and this is
a big change – it can be nourishing,
with substantial protein, a natural range of nutritional qualities, with no
chemical additives, herbicides or pesticides.This is bread that has a lengthy shelf life, growing better with time
and resisting mold and desiccation, particularly in its naturally fermented
iterations.Freshly milled flour has
superior baking properties, creates tastier interior crumb and exterior
But there’s more than just taste … and nutrition … and
superior baking qualities.Our small
scale grain farmers are true stewards of the land.They care for the soil, the need for crop
rotation, protection of the aquifers.Local means a smaller carbon footprint, lower CO2 emissions, less
shipping costs, less waste of non-sustainable resources.Less need for middleman handlers.In their concern for their fields and their care to
plant the right grain for their climate and terroir, they are partnering with grain
growers around the world whose intention is to feed their local communities.They want to make their land productive and
diverse rather than give up and buy industrial flour that is of unknown provenance and
full of additives.
still another reason why small scale grain growing must prosper.It is essential to the restoration of diversity
in a crop that has fed the world for ten thousand years.Small scale grain growing will help develop
drought tolerant varieties, and grain that will endure climate change.Industrial-scale monoculture of wheat
produces inferior flour, is damaging to the land, leads to the loss of thousands
of varieties of modern, heirloom, and ancient grains.And most important, shows we have learned
little or nothing from the horrors of monocrop failures.
There’s good reason to believe that small-scale grain
growing will be a vital part of our food system.
You can taste the difference.
goals of the Southern California Wheat Enterprise are not hard to summarize.Like most such endeavors, the vision is to improve
the grains and flour available to our homes and neighborhoods.And that added value is in three important areas:
in our region …under sustainable farming practices…. free of chemicals & contaminants… available direct from growers to mills
that is freshly milled … nutritious … good flavored … good for baking
specific varieties of modern, heirloom, landrace, and ancient grains from
specific farms and farmers.
This literal grass roots revolution is really
pretty simple.We don’t have to settle
for less than what these remarkable grains have to offer.Improving the quality of grain and flour is a
return to ways that were common not that long ago.The enterprise believes that our families and
neighbors, our bakers and chefs, all can once again have a range of nutritional
wheat and flour products that are grown, milled, baked, and then enjoyed by
members of our communities.