I can’t believe how much of it has slipped under us already this year. It feels like I was just packing for the Cascadia Grains conference, yet since then, I’ve been enough places to break a suitcase.
Cascadia Grains Conference in Olympia, WA
NOFA-NY Winter Conference in Saratoga, NY
Farmer Brewer Winter Weekend at Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY
Hudson Valley Grains School in Coxsackie, NY
Brewers’ Choice in Brooklyn
Louismill in Louisville, KY
IACP Conference in Louisville, KY
I wanted to write about each one and tell you about the grains pioneers I met, but as soon as I get home I’m back to work at Unity House. I am grateful that my job is flexible enough to let me pursue so many opportunities. Everywhere I go, I try to get a taste of the innovations in emergency feeding programs like the ones I help run.
Last week in New York, I visited Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen, which serves 1000 lunches a day. 50 different volunteers make this happen, plus Chef Felipe Saint-Martin and a small but steady kitchen support staff. One thing I love about this place is that they use whole grains and lots of fresh vegetables. Dessert is always a piece of fruit. Offering these nutrient dense staples is tough in an emergency food environment. I was really inspired by their example, and I look forward to visiting with them again, maybe for their fundraiser in May, Farm to Tray.
At work, we are serving lots of vegetables these days. Pickled beets, carrot salad with turnips, and green salad with oranges and grapes. Blueberries are pouring in, free from the USDA commodities program, and somehow, we are getting zillions of grapes through the food bank. The flow of food always intrigues me, but the routes to grains are the ones I want to understand most.
Tom Edwards is doing something extraordinary with Louismill & MozzaPi in Louisville, Kentucky. I am so grateful I had four whole hours to do a presentation with him before the IACP conference. Tom served grits and beautiful breads for breakfast, and talked about what he was doing with the mill – creating a new model that prioritizes farmers and the grains themselves. He talked about the conversation he had with the Mennonite farmers who are growing his corn, and paying them twice the commodity rate so that they could stop working off-farm.
This is what fuels my fire: the decision to create new relationships between staple crops, from field to mill and mill to me. Thank you Tom, for making such a fantastic place. That day really nourished me.
Now I am home for a minute, and the snow is about to pile on us in the Northeast. I’ll be walking to work and making breakfast for lunch for whoever braves the blizzard. I hope you are tucked in snug, like blueberries under a crust – be sure to get or bake some pie for Pi Day, okay?