When we first got involved with locally grown grains over four years ago, one of our long term goals was the pursuit of identity preserved wheat. By this we mean a particular variety grown by a farmer we know and trust, and milled into flour without being blended with other varieties or wheats from other farms.
That goal became a reality last spring when we were approached by Front Porch Farms, a 112 acre organic/biodynamic farm in Healdsburg, CA. Owner Peter Buckley and farmer Matt Taylor were eager to start growing grain but wanted to do some smaller trials of different varieties to figure out what would perform best in their area. We helped them select three varieties we were curious about and provided seed for a fourth. And lo & behold, just last week we received very small quantities of our first four identity preserved wheat flours: Bolero, Espresso, and Cristallo – all soft winter wheats, and Desert King, an amber durum variety.
The next step, which we are just now beginning, is to define each variety’s individual flavor components and create a language to talk about those components. We had an initial tasting with some of our best palates: Oliveto’s Executive Chef Jonah Rhodehamel, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyards, and Lance and Ellie Winters of St. George Spirits. We intend to do a more in-depth assessment of characteristics over the next few weeks.
We are excited about the potential of this first small harvest as it helps to bring us closer to the idea of a small-scale regional grain economy, which we believe is the best option for the health of our communities, our farmers, our food, and our selves.