Happy New Year from us at Common Grain Alliance! We have some news to share both from last year, as well as some upcoming events in 2019.
Although the snow held us back for a couple weeks, about a dozen members new and old got together at Little Hat Creek Farm in Nelson County for our last general member meeting of 2018. Heather Coiner gave us a tour of her wood-fired oven and bakery after her partner Ben Stowe showed us the vegetable fields.
Heather then led us in a discussion about using ascorbic acid (a.k.a. vitamin C) in whole wheat breads. Adding a tiny bit of vitamin C to a whole grain dough will allow it to hold its shape better and rise a little taller when baked. Heather had 3 test loaves that appeared to demonstrate the truth of this hypothesis, and for her the breads with extra ascorbic acid would be more marketable because of their attractive shape. We also had a lively discussion about the ethics of this: what responsibility do bakers have to tell their customers they are using ascorbic acid? Is it OK to use such a processed ingredient in “whole grain” bread? What if this allows bakers to include more local grain that may have a weaker gluten structure?
Our next quarterly member meeting will be in the DC area in February, be on the lookout for more details.
The Mid-Atlantic Grain Economy
At our last meeting, the membership voted to adopt the term “Mid-Atlantic” to describe our regional reach. While our founding membership has been focused in central Virginia, we are building a network of bakers millers and growers from West Virginia, DC, Maryland, and beyond. By drawing on our resources and networks across this broader region, we will create a stronger movement and bring more local bread to the table!
This month, CGA is hitting the road to host discussions about our local grain economy at two regional farming conferences:
- January 12 at the Virginia Biological Farming Conference in Richmond.
- January 19 at Future Harvest CASA in College Park, Maryland.
These are both excellent educational and networking events for farmers, local eaters, and home gardeners alike. See you there!