We are committed to offering seed education openly, equitably, and without barriers. As seed savers, we inherit a responsibility to care for seeds and share knowledge. We believe education is fundamental to the seed movement, is essential to the health and preservation of cultural identity, and is a key element in climate change preparedness.

Grain School 101

Seeds in Common presents Grain School 101

Growing grains has been an integral component in many cultures for several centuries, becoming a significant step in changing our relationship to food. Yet what has emerged as the modern industrial food system has greatly damaged our planet, our health, and reduced our access to diverse (and delicious) heritage grains. We have the ability to counteract these dire actions by re-learning how to grow our own grains, sharing seeds with others, and developing community-based food economies. 

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What you will learn

  • Understand the significance of regionally adapted heritage and ancient grains
  • Challenge¬†the industrial¬†grain agriculture system
  • Feel your passion ignited to reconnect with your food source and challenge industrial grain agriculture

Topics List

Adapted from the well-known and established Grain School from the Seeds in Common predecessor organization, Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, Grain School 101 is a comprehensive self-guided education program bound to challenge the current industrial food paradigm and empower you to get involved in your regional grain system.

Why We Need to Grow Heritage Grains - Bill McDorman

Bill McDorman is a seed saver, writer, and inspirational educator based in Cornville, Arizona. He is co-founder of The Down Home Project, Garden City Seeds, Seeds Trust, High Altitude Gardens, the Sawtooth Botanical Gardens, Seed School, and the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance. He is also the author of the book Basic Seed Saving. He now spends his time focusing on reinvigorating heritage grains in his gardens in northern Arizona and northern Mexico.

Appreciating the Cultural History of Heritage Grains - Glenn Roberts

Glenn Roberts is the Founder of Anson Mills and offers his insight as he reflects on the cultural history and value of landrace grains. Glenn continues to organically grow, harvest, and mill heirloom varieties of rice, corn, and wheat and has helped to restore the culture of the southern larder.

Growing Heritage and Ancient Grains Takeaways - Evan Sofro

An intuitive heritage grain grower, Evan Sofro shares his experience with growing ancient and heritage grains. Evan served as Farm Manager of Native Seeds/SEARCH in Patagonia, Arizona where he conducted research on various environmental adaptations of seeds and grains. Evan has experience conducting crop assessments, evaluations, and variety trials. 

Fresh Milled Grains - Diego Madue√Īo

Diego Madue√Īo gives us an in-depth look at the process of milling grains using an older technique: stone mills. As¬†the head miller of Hayden Flour Mills, he operates a medium-scale milling business based in Queen Creek, Arizona. Hayden Mills is reviving forgotten ancient grains from the ground up in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. They want to show¬†consumers a world of grains alive with flavor, texture, aroma, and nutrients.

Bread and Biodiversity: the Journey of Landrace Grain - Eli Rogosa

Eli Rogosa invites us to consider our identity through our ancestry and to grow heritage grains relative to our own story, environment, and capacity. Rogosa established the Heritage Grain Conservancy to preserve rare landrace wheat to ensure that future generations live in a world of biodiversity. 

The Splendor of Spelt - Sylvia Davatz

Sylvia Davatz is a well-known Vermont gardener who has grown 200+ varieties of diverse heirloom plants. She is the founder of Solstice Seeds, an organization that embraces offering rare, endangered, interesting, or notable seed varieties adapted to Eastern Vermont. Sylvia’s goal has always been to support, maintain, and disseminate diversity, and, above all, to encourage everyone to become seed savers.

Corn Stories and Cosmology - Brandon Francis

Brandon Francis connects us to corn through stories and traditions practiced by his ancestors for thousands of years, offering a researcher's perspective of why these traditions continue into modern times. A plant researcher at the New Mexico State University Agricultural Center, he has been conducting high-elevation Three Sisters experiments with seed varieties endemic to the Southwest. His family has stewarded corn in the Black Mesa, New Mexico area for several generations, and his research has helped deepen his connection to his Diné heritage.

Grain Trials Research and Seeding Rates - Emily Lockard

Emily Lockard of Southwestern Colorado Research Center discusses her team’s experience growing and researching heritage grains. With Emily's support as well as other grain trialists, Lee-Ann Hill performed research on the growing characteristics and nutritional qualities of 20 Ancient and Heritage Grains. Their research has been published as The Grain Guidebook, downloadable here.

Growing Einkorn - Dr. Richard Pratt

Dr. Richard Pratt, Director of Cropping Systems Research Innovation Program at New Mexico State University, shares his assessment of growing Einkorn in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Since 2011, Dr. Pratt has been investigating Einkorn in the arid southwest. His passion is to learn more about native crops for food security while reducing water use.

Rocky Mountain Heritage Grain Trials Project Origins

In 2016, Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance hosted Grain School at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS). This course graduated 24 students and gave rise to an exciting collaboration of grain farmers, breeders, and researchers. The Arkansas Watershed Grain Project set out to identify ancient and heritage grain varieties that will perform well in their area, and increase quantities of the best performing varieties for use by local farmers. In doing so, they increased seed stock and laid the groundwork for a local grain economy to emerge.

Rio Grande Grain: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful - Christine Salem, Diane Pratt, and Ron Boyd

Originating in 2018, the Rio Grande Grain team has spent the last few years building a network and connecting heritage grain enthusiasts in northern New Mexico. Three of their members Christine, Diane, and Ron shared their story and passion, tips, and tricks for growing local, heritage grains. Over four growing seasons beginning in spring 2018, they have trialed nearly 50 varieties of grain and pseudo-grain. 

Climate, Adaptations, and Citizen Science - Lee-Ann Hill

After volunteering and learning on farms in Northern New Mexico and Costa Rica, Lee-Ann moved to southwestern Colorado and created Laughing Wolf Farm to further explore seed adaptation and other food system passions. She led the Heritage Grain Trials program and the development of the Grain Guidebook.

Kernza and Perennial Wheat - Dr. Lee DeHaan

In 2001, Dr. DeHaan began a program to develop perennial wheat at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. Currently, he leads a project there to develop intermediate wheatgrass into a perennial grain crop, which is marketed as Kernza¬ģ. The program now has collaborators working at institutions around the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Regionalizing the Grain Economy Panel - Michelle Ajamian, Dana Whitcomb and Chris Sullivan

Michelle Ajamian, network manager for Rural Action’s Sustainable Agriculture program, launched the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative in 2009 as an informal network project to build local agricultural economies around staple food crops. She is also the principal at Shagbark Seed and Mill, an organic processing facility launched to develop a regional model for the production and processing of staple grain, bean, oilseed, and nut crops. 

Mountain Oven Bakery is an organic bakery that specializes in sourdough breads and pastries. They also offer farm-to-table catering through special events, farmers markets, and regional wholesale distribution. Owners Dana and Chris bake with intention and care using stone-ground flours freshly milled in-house and natural leaveners for optimal nutrition and flavor. 

Tools and Equipment to Scale-Up Grain Production - Ron Boyd

Ron Boyd shares his experience, tools, and equipment to help grain growers scale up their heritage grain growing production. He is one of the founders of Rio Grande Grain but also farms with his wife in La Vilita, New Mexico. After attending Grain School in 2016, he was inspired to start Rio Grande Grain with a few others desiring to create interest and demand for ancient and heritage grains in northern New Mexico. Rio Grande Grain is working to connect growers, millers, commercial and home bakers, and brewers.

Understanding Scale - Bill McDorman

Bill McDorman wraps up Grain School 101 with an explanation of scale and what to consider when you start the amazing journey of growing ancient and heritage grains.

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