by Ciraran Lyons
YELLOW SPRINGS, Ohio – Farmers, millers, brewers, bakers, entrepreneurs, and researchers convened for the first ever Heritage Grain School hosted by the Agraria Center for Regenerative Practice. The event, which took place August 12-14, aimed to create a gathering much like the Grain School organized by University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) since 2016.
Attendees participated in discussions about the past, present, and future states of grain cultivation and processing, sample specialty products such as buckwheat beer and red fife pancakes, and toured local grain farms and facilities.
Millers Peer Group member Jon Branstrator invited guests to his Clarksville farm to see his heritage grain operation and share in his knowledge of regenerative agriculture. Participants also took a field trip to the Antioch Farm for a rye-threshing demonstration and sorghum field viewing.
Heritage and pseudo grain like einkorn, emmer, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, heirloom corn, and Khorasan wheat were the focus of discussions and menu items during the weekend. These crops were highlighted by presenters for their nutritional value, climate and soil resilience, unique flavor profiles, and genetic variety.
Bill McDorman of Cornville Seed demonstrated nixtamalization to make tortillas, a Mayan process that releases corn’s bionutrients and flavor by soaking whole corn in lime water or alkaline solution. The Maya developed Nixtamal in Central America, where maize as we recognize it today was originally bred from wild grasses more than 8,000 years ago.
Event organizer Beth Bridgeman of Antioch College noted that the biggest takeaway of the weekend was the sense of community that was created.
“Several people expressed such gratitude to be finding others ‘doing this lonely work’, to experience a sense of joy, and connection and community” said Bridgeman. “Several people also left with new contacts for marketing their grain.”