Winter Grains

Conference season goes virtual

Dear Bread friends, 

For ages, I’ve spent January, February and March traveling to grains conferences in the Northeast, Midwest and Pacific Northwest. NOFA-NY hosted an afternoon of grains’ talks on January 26, 2011 — I can remember the day because that’s my birthday, and it was my grains birthday, the beginning of my decade exploring regional grain systems. I didn’t know it then, but the room was full of people who were reviving the grainshed. I got to know them, and write about them, as I researched my book, “The New Bread Basket.”

These people were so engaged in their jobs and projects. Their enthusiasm and curiosity were fuel for my writing, for sure. I am still impressed by how fresh flour and fresh malt can get people so psyched about their work! I sure do miss catching up at conferences and field days.

The good thing is that these events are more accessible now that they’re remote. Tomorrow, I’m starting UCCS Grain School, their second session, on nutrition, and I highly recommend you join the free session Saturday. Their free February public forum was amazing — 4 hours of programming that taught me so much, and gave me a window on what is going on in that region.

Monday and Tuesday are the Philly Grain & Malt Symposium. This is not free but it is $12. What a deal! Grains TV is going to make it hard to get my work done early next week, but I’ll gladly suffer the educational distractions.

The Northern Grain Growers Association conference in Vermont is a tough one to miss — the camaraderie is just cozier up there in VT. BUT, their Out of the Box program is really good looking.

The Asheville Bread Festival is not doing a virtual deal, but The Kneading Conference is. And Cascadia Grains is delivering its normally live January programming remotely in May, as Grains Week, so that is something to look forward to, also. I’m not sure what’s up with the Grain Gathering, but I’ll keep you posted.

I hope you’ll check out some of these opportunities. Reinventing the wheel for regional staple crops is still a whole new world, and there’s so much to learn. I think you’ll find some fun along the way.

Your flour pal,