Patrick Wylie - Baker’s Field Flour & Bread

Grains In Action

Moving grains from farms to tables is a group effort. We work on strengthening the Midwest grainshed through five member-led Working Groups, and facilitate information sharing, organize gatherings, and offer support and connection for the regional grain chain.

Midwest GRIT

Midwest GRIT (Grains Resource & Immersive Training) is focused on strengthening opportunities and outcomes for diverse small- and mid-size Midwest food-grade grain farmers. A program of Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, in partnership with AGC, and The Organic Grain Resource and Information Network (OGRAIN), Midwest GRIT supports farmers through three key areas: education, peer-to-peer learning and relationship development, and resource sharing.

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FSMA PCR Grain Guide

This resource can help grain value chain businesses identify which Food Safety Modernization Act Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule requirements apply to their particular operations and assist them in understanding what they need to do to comply. The guide includes: key terms, a flowchart to determine regulatory entity category, compliance information specific to farms, processing facilities, retail food establishments, and restaurants, and a discussion of how particular activities fit within and are subject to the rule.

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Distilling Research

Silver Tree Beer & Spirits

AGC members Cow Creek Farm and Silver Tree Beer & Spirits are working with the University of Illinois Food Science Pilot Processing Plant through a NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant to test distillation performance of five heritage, open-pollinated corn varieties. Yellow #2 dent corn is most commonly used for distilling, but other cultivars offer alternative market niches and farm diversification opportunities. This work will begin to develop an understanding of the flavor composition and alcohol conversion of these distinct varieties.

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Variety Trial Bake Tests

Jas McDaniel Photography - Madison Sourdough

For the past several years, AGC has been working to connect the research community, farmers, millers, and bakers to test small grain varieties to find those optimized for baking end-uses. The newest iteration of this project is funded through a USDA OREI grant. In partnership with Dr. Julie Dawson and the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative housed at UW-Madison, the team at the University of Illinois Food Science Pilot Processing Plant, and farmers, millers, and bakers, we are working to help identify seeds that work well for both farmers and bakers.‍

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Grains in Institutions

Cafe #110, Waconia Public School District

Institutions like schools, hospitals, and business campuses represent a largely untapped market opportunity for local grain consumption. A USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant (2020-2023) awarded to AGC in partnership with UW-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) seeks to connect grain producers across the Upper Midwest with Wisconsin institutions. Resources created through this project will accelerate procurement of local grains and build staple crops into existing farm to institution efforts.

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MOSES Podcast: Grain Series

In April 2021, AGC member Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) published a three-part series on food-grade grains for their MOSES Organic Podcast. Education & Outreach Working Group coordinator Amy Halloran recorded conversations with the following AGC members: UW-Madison Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, Living Prairie Family Farm, Funks Grove Heritage Fruits & Grains, and Hazzard Free Farm. Episodes are linked below.

Behind the Seeds

Diversifying Crop Rotations

On-Farm Milling

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Neighbor Loaves

ORIGIN Breads

In March 2020, AGC launched an initiative to secure the local grain chain and support the regional emergency feeding system during the pandemic. Neighbor Loaves are made by bakers, bakeries, and other food businesses using at least 50% locally grown and milled flour. Consumers and other donors buy the bread at full retail cost, supporting regional farms, mills, and bakers. The loaves go to food pantries and community feeding organizations and make their way to those in need.

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ORIGIN Breads

Neighbor Loaves

In March 2020, AGC launched an initiative to secure the local grain chain and support the regional emergency feeding system during the pandemic. Neighbor Loaves are made by bakers, bakeries, and other food businesses using at least 50% locally grown and milled flour. Consumers and other donors buy the bread at full retail cost, supporting regional farms, mills, and bakers. The loaves go to food pantries and community feeding organizations, which continue to be hard hit by ongoing economic issues resulting from the pandemic, and make their way to those who need bread.

Learn More
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Jas McDaniel Photography - Madison Sourdough

Variety Trial Bake Tests

For the past several years, AGC has been working to connect the research community, farmers, millers, and bakers to test small grain varieties to find those optimized for baking end-uses. The newest iteration of this project is funded through a USDA OREI grant (2020-2023). In partnership with Dr. Julie Dawson and the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative housed at UW-Madison, the team at the University of Illinois Food Science Pilot Processing Plant, and farmers, millers, and bakers, we are working to help identify seeds that work well for both farmers and bakers.

Learn More
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Cafe #110, Waconia Public School District

Grains in Institutions

Institutions like schools, hospitals, and business campuses represent a largely untapped market opportunity for local grain consumption. A USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant (2020-2023) awarded to AGC in partnership with UW-Madison’s Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) seeks to connect grain producers across the Upper Midwest with Wisconsin institutions. Resources created through this project will accelerate procurement of local grains and build staple crops into existing farm to institution efforts.

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Silver Tree Beer & Spirits

Distilling Research

AGC members Cow Creek Farm and Silver Tree Beer & Spirits are working with the University of Illinois Food Science Pilot Processing Plant through a NCR-SARE Farmer Rancher Grant to test distillation performance of five heritage, open-pollinated corn varieties. Yellow #2 dent corn is most commonly used for distilling, but other cultivars offer alternative market niches and farm diversification opportunities. This work will begin to develop an understanding of the flavor composition and alcohol conversion of these distinct varieties.

Learn More
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MOSES Podcast: Grain Series

In April 2021, AGC member Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) published a three-part series on food-grade grains for their MOSES Organic Podcast. Education & Outreach Working Group coordinator Amy Halloran recorded conversations with several AGC member farmers, millers, and researchers to create the series. Episodes include: Behind the Seeds, Diversifying Crop Rotations, and On-Farm Milling.

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Silver Tree Beer & Spirits

FSMA PCR Grain Guide

Developed in partnership with the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, this resource can help grain value chain businesses identify which Food Safety Modernization Act Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule requirements apply to their particular operations and assist them in understanding what they need to do to comply as they work to build local and regional food systems.

The guide includes: key terms — a flowchart to help farms and businesses determine which regulatory entity category they fall into — compliance information specific to farms processing facilities, retail food establishments, and restaurants that grow, process, store, and handle grains — a discussion of how particular activities fit within the rule to help producers understand if and how their activities make them subject to it.

Learn
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Silver Tree Beer & Spirits

FSMA PCR Grain Guide

Developed in partnership with the Vermont Law School Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, this resource can help grain value chain businesses identify which Food Safety Modernization Act Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule requirements apply to their particular operations and assist them in understanding what they need to do to comply as they work to build local and regional food systems.

The guide includes: key terms — a flowchart to help farms and businesses determine which regulatory entity category they fall into — compliance information specific to farms processing facilities, retail food establishments, and restaurants that grow, process, store, and handle grains — a discussion of how particular activities fit within the rule to help producers understand if and how their activities make them subject to it.

Learn
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Our Working Groups

These member-led vehicles for community building convene and support members to help illustrate, contextualize, and connect their work with others across the region. Working Groups meet virtually to tackle pressing issues relevant to the development of our grainshed. Want to join a Working Group?
Apply to become an AGC member here.

Education & Outreach

This cross-sectoral working group provides ideation and resource development for both AGC members and the public. The Education & Outreach Working Group supports the coordination of AGC’s Community Calls for members, and creates new ways to convey and connect the values of regional grains to consumers.

-Educates about soil health, environmentally-sound agriculture practices, and economic resilience

-Creates outreach opportunities and materials about what small grains and other staple crops are, why they are important, and how to use them

-Strengthens the regional grain chain by illuminating the individuals and entities fostering grain relationships

-Invites Midwesterners from all walk of life to be a link in the grain chain through social media, newsletters, public events, and conversations

Research & Variety Testing

The Research & Variety Testing Working Group is focused on identity-preserved grain cultivars or hybrids and how they create unique value-added products. This group delves into diverse genetics and the ways in which specific varieties can help farmers, bakers, and food businesses succeed in producing or using identity-preserved Midwestern grains, thus achieving greater landscape diversity.

-Explores the range of specific grains cultivars being grown across the Midwest 

-Shares insights into the efforts of ongoing public and private grain breeding programs

-Communicates information about field days and other opportunities to see and learn about identity-preserved grains on-farm, in mills, malthouses, bakeries, distilleries, restaurants and other processing facilities

-Provides connections to assist in sourcing high-quality seed of artisan grains

-Offers information on quality testing resources needed to sell grain crops into specialty markets

-Presents opportunities to participate in culinary evaluation of experimental varieties

Farmer Collaboration

The Farmer Collaboration Working Group is a relationship building space for farmers producing diverse food-grade small grains, as well as dry beans and maize. This Working Group facilitates information sharing and best practices, organizes events, gatherings, and networking  opportunities, and offers support for the regional small grain and staples farming community. Members are invited to participate in quarterly calls and regular communication through the working group’s email listserv, and are asked to share information about acres and varieties planted on an annual basis. If you are not a farmer and want to connect with those growing diverse food-grade grains, there are opportunities for AGC members to do so outside of this Working Group. 

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Offers a supportive community for peer-to-peer education among farmers producing diverse food-grade staple crops in the region

-Solicits farmer input for project work that will strengthen grain production and marketing opportunities

-Connects grain farmers with resources that increase economic, agronomic, and social resilience

Brewing & Distilling

The Brewing & Distilling Working Group brings together individuals, organizations, businesses, researchers, and experts throughout the Midwest beverage supply chain to promote collaboration and education within and about the regional grainshed. This cross-sectoral working group facilitates information sharing and best practices, organizes events, gatherings, and networking opportunities, and offers support for the regional craft brewing and distilling community interested in being part of the regional grainshed.

-Connects entities working across the Upper Midwest beverage supply chain to promote collaboration

-Invites speakers representing the different stakeholder audiences along the regional grain supply chain to share their insights and research, such as grain breeding efforts as it relates to malting, brewing, distilling, and upcycling

-Fosters efforts to expand consumer understanding of local beer and spirits as agricultural products with the potential to be grown and processed locally and the associated environmental, social, and economic benefits of local production

-Provides support, communication opportunities, and resources for farmers, maltsters, brewers, distillers, and upcyclers

Institutional Procurement

Expands the utilization of grains in institutional settings

Connects schools, hospitals, colleges, businesses campuses, correctional facilities, and others to farmers and processors

Develops resources and engagement opportunities to support farmers in selling and and institutional chefs in using diverse staple crops

Seeks creative bridges between regional grains and wholesale purchasers