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,

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