Given my (probably foolhardy) attempt to grow winter wheat in the Bay Area, I was thrilled to see an article in today’s San Francisco Chronicle about Bay Area wheat growers. Most of the small organic farms are growing soft Sonora wheat, but I was excited to learn that Eatwell Farm in Dixon is growing hard red winter wheat. The winter temperature averages for Dixon are not that different from where I live which makes me feel a little more hopeful about the success of my crop.
But the really thrilling thing for me in this article was learning about Whole Grain Connection, a local non-profit focused on organically and sustainably grown grains. I wish I had known about their seed catalog before I started my crop. They have so much good information especially about varieties. I would really love to try growing the Ethiopian Blue Tinge variety, not only because of my history and connection with Ethiopia, but also because they say the flour is good for “dark richly flavored whole wheat breads. Yum. But this variety seems to be a Spring crop and I’m not going to sacrifice my regular vegetable garden for growing wheat. If only I had acreage!
Speaking of grains and Ethiopia…when I was in the Ethiopian countryside last year at this time I watched families hand harvesting teff to make their traditional “sponge bread” injera. I’ve always liked this gluten-free grain, not only for its interesting taste but also for its strong nutritional profile–high in iron, calcium and protein; excellent amino acid composition (including all 8 essential amino acids for humans) and lysine levels that stimulate the flora of the large intestine. The problem is it’s not always easy to find locally. One good online source for both the grain and the flour is at Teff Co a company growing teff domestically in Idaho. I definitely recommend trying it, especially for those on a gluten-free diet.
There are more pictures of my 2007 trip to Ethiopia on my Flickr Photostream.