Breslin Farms

Grains to Trays

‘Farm to institution’ is the practice of purchasing locally grown foods for food service settings like schools, hospitals, colleges, and business campuses. This growing movement supports agricultural producers, increases meal quality and transparency, and provides opportunities for connection between rural and urban communities.

While institutions already purchase grain in many forms, they often lack the knowledge, relationships, skills, or culinary capacity to incorporate local grains. Similarly, many regional farms, mills, and food manufacturers already have products available for sale that institutions might like to purchase, but need support navigating the particulars of working together. Identifying a need for network building and resource development to increase the use of grains, beans, and oilseeds in Midwest institutional culinary programs, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) and Artisan Grain Collaborative (AGC) established the Grains to Trays initiative in 2021.

This webpage acts as a clearinghouse for research, farmer support resources, and practitioner tools developed as part of these efforts. Our newest set of resources provide information about food safety and liability considerations for farms and food businesses interested in selling to institutions. Learn more here.

Grains to Trays Publications

As a first step to understanding regional grain to institution efforts, a national inquiry was sent to relevant networks, government entities, universities, food service officials, farm to institution organizations, and advocates to compile a repository of published resources that highlight, explain, inform, or relate to existing and potential regional grains to institution sourcing efforts. The Grains to Trays team compiled and curated these resources, added descriptive text and graphics, and organized them according to audience and content. This compilation of resources aggregates relevant information to advance research and work in this area, avoid duplicative efforts, and maximize project impact.

Literature Review

The Grains to Institution Environmental Scan is a summary of efforts to assess and understand the grains to institution landscape in the Upper Midwest identified by gathering stakeholder knowledge, needs, and barriers. The document features information collected from food service directors, grain farmers, processors, and aggregators and is intended for use by procurement specialists, technical assistance providers, researchers, and support organizations interested in better understanding the challenges and opportunities involved with serving regional grains in Upper Midwest institutions.

Environmental Scan

Grain cleaning options for small and specialty grains are limited; farmers in the region continue to cite that important grain processing step as a primary barrier for scaling up and meeting potential buyer demands. This brief report focuses on the gaps and opportunities related to small grains cleaning and investigates whether mobile grain processing is a possible solution for addressing this bottleneck in the Upper Midwest grain value chain.

Mobile Processing Report

Funding for the “Grains to Institutions: Expanding Value Chains and Cultivating Resources for Upper Midwest Grain Growers” project was made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant AM200100XXXXG143. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.