Local flour for local WNC bakeries: Who and how this is happening

Thank you Mountain Xpress for running the article "From the Ground Up" in your June 9 issue. As project coordinator of the N.C. Organic Bread Flour Project — an effort that has for the last year-and-a-half entailed numerous baker meetings, farmer meetings and lots of e-mail communications — it is exciting to see our efforts in print.

There are many facets to this project whose aim is to create a viable bread-grain economy in North Carolina, and there are many strands to the story. So it did not completely surprise me that some of the facts in the article got a bit confused. Here is my attempt to shed some light.

To begin with, the bread wheat trials — which began in 2002 and, five years later, released the first hard winter wheat varieties bred and developed for production in the eastern United States — is the work of the USDA-ARS, led by Dr. David Marshall, research leader of the Plant Science Research Unit in Raleigh.

The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) is a 30-plus-year-old membership-based nonprofit organization that aims to promote local and organic agriculture in the Carolinas by inspiring, educating and organizing farmers and consumers. The North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project is an initiative of CFSA, which secured funding for this project from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, as well as Sante Fe Tobacco.

We've located the project's mill here in Western North Carolina because of the area's large concentration of bakeries and our high regard for local food. The idea is that we will set up storage for grain, mill it fresh and get the flour directly to the bakeries. Although we would like to use grain grown in the western part of the state, we will most likely draw from all over the state. But this is a great improvement over the current centrally located and vertically integrated large-scale growing and processing of grain that is trucked in from at least 1,000 miles away, supplying the flour that most likely went into your loaf of bread.

The seven bakeries mentioned in the article — Annie's Naturally, Flat Rock Village, Farm & Sparrow, Loafchild, Wake Robin Farm Breads, West End and Wildflour — have come together to try and change that paradigm. The intention behind our fundraising efforts is to raise the money (our goal is $6,000) to pay for the bare essentials necessary to launch the production-level-testing and product-development phases of this project. So please come out to our Bread for Bread Bake Sale on July 3 at the North Asheville Tailgate Market and to the Slow Food Beer & BBQ fundraiser on July 17.

Eat bread, speak Truth!

For more information, visit http://ncobfp.blogspot.com.

— Jennifer Lapidus, project coordinator
North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project

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