Gathering Grains

Bakery Update for July 27, 2022

Our first shipment of Einkorn berries from Grand Teton Ancient Grains.
By Ashley Overstreet
I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to get things up and running on the legal and accounting fronts: writing up a business plan; getting the business set up at the local, state, and federal levels; finding a Colorado-based accountant; taking the required food safety course; etc. While these are all necessary and important steps, they’ve taken me about as far from baking as they possibly can.

Recently, I’ve shifted my focus to sourcing ingredients and smaller equipment. This at least has me in the realm of baking, but it brings about a new set of challenges. For starters, we’re in grain limbo land right now: the grain from last season is sold out at many places, and depending upon where you live and what you’re looking for, this year’s crop may not be ready for purchase (it might even still be in the field).

Another challenge can be finding smaller farmers or suppliers. We’re so accustomed to googling (“amazon-ing?”) whatever we want and having it a click or two away. We automatically take that one-click shopping approach to grains, but that’s not where we’re at right now (the question of whether it’s even where we want to be is another issue entirely). 

Unexpectedly, Instagram has been a useful place to connect with farmers and bakers via the Message function. We learned about Grains from the Plains’ Wheat Harvest Festival and attended that recently. We got to meet farmers Laura and Kevin Poss and their family and to see their farm. They grow a few varieties that I haven’t baked with yet, so I’m excited to give them a try. This is a good example of what technology can do: connect people in meaningful and useful ways.

While this feels like shameful site promotion, I honestly use the Grain Finder we’ve been working on every time I’m looking for new sources for grain (we’re still adding entries as we find them). The Grain Finder started as a way for us to keep track of where grain is available, but now it’s also about connecting farmers with grain to bakers, millers, eaters, etc. who are accustomed to using technology to find what they need. I don’t want to overlook the value of knowing your farmer or seeing where your grain is grown, but this is about meeting people where they are and trying to facilitate closer connections. 

If there’s a silver lining to this, it’s that sourcing your own grain pulls you from the supermarket aisles where everything is available year round and the mindless one-click shopping we do online. It forces you to think about where foods are grown, when they are in season, and whether their season can be extended (think freezing fruit or canning tomatoes). 

With grains, we have the benefit of long-term storage as long as the right conditions are met: temperature, moisture level, avoidance of pests. There’s something special about, say, the first peaches of the season, but there’s something to be said for the comfort (joy even?) that comes from knowing there’s 50 lbs of einkorn in your freezer, just waiting to be turned into scones, bread, or some other tasty concoction.
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