There is so much to talk about but I will just start by informing all of you that it has been a great year and the fall plantings were on time and growing well. The hard red winter wheat we planted is from seed that we harvested last year and is our primary crop for next year. There was also a planting of oats and malting barleys that will serve as both seed stock for next year and some limited distribution. We are growing out seed for a new hardy winter pea that makes an edible dry pea- a new variety bred for human or animal consumption. As spring comes around we will be planting a sunflower and a few varieties of dry beans- including mung bean and pigeon pea that we grew out last year.
POGO, and the cooperating farmers are delivering organically grown(not certified), whole grains to those that request it and milled whole grain or bolted (sifted) flours of hard red winter wheat and oats. Our legumes will come in whole or split form and the oils will be bottled. The volumes of each will be determined by its seasonal availability, like all real food. We will be a presence at the Charlottesville city market on Saturdays starting in the spring and delivering our first crop this coming summer. Distribution of this year's harvest will unfortunately be first-come-first-serve. What we are striving for is not to dominate this niche but to cultivate it. This model works and it works so well that we need more farms and more farmers to just supply the demand. As we grow, our ability to supply small and large consumers of grains, legumes and oils with a consistent product will develop into something that resembles a CSA. Where consumers, whether they are a retail establishments or individuals, will sign up for and be delivered an agreed upon amount over time or in one delivery. The beauty of these products is their natural shelf life. When the grain is left whole and stored properly it can retain more of its nutrients than most other foods. Those nutrients are unleashed when the seed is cracked, milled, malted, or sprouted. After that time though the flour begins its decent into just a shadow of its former self in terms of nutrient density. This fact alone underlines the necessity to broaden our local food horizons, Fresher is Better.
From the responses we received earlier this year from our survey we are happy to say that thirty percent of the folks that expressed interest had access to a small home mill. For the family to get the most out of their grains, the small home mill will get them there. They range from simple but effective hand crank mills to expensive kitchen appliances. In the not so distant past, a majority of families across the nation milled their own flours in house or had access to a miller. The industry that was, is evident along just about any large stream or river if you know where to look. Rebuilding that industry is improbable but rebuilding that sense of community and stewardship is happening before our eyes.
We will keep you updated on our progress as the winter rolls through to spring! Please keep in touch.