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At the intersection of food, soil, climate, farming and water.

Small Grains Field Day

We all got wet. 150 farmers, consumers, creditors, agency leaders, bakers, researchers, and people interested in a healthy food system came to the Uplands and Pecatonica Pride Watershed Groups’ Small Grains Field Day on Sunday, June 30 on Meadowlark Farm in Ridgeway, WI to talk about small grains like wheat, oats, rye, and triticale. That morning, we bit into delicious croissants made by Madison Sourdough from Meadowlark wheat and climbed into buses to travel to non-adjacent fields to see wheat, rye and other small grains fields. Five minutes before we arrived, the rains arrived first, with 50-60 mph winds, and we huddled on our buses as it pelted down.

True to community form, back at the Field Day site, with tents blown over and tables and chairs moved into the calf barn, everyone joined in to stage a delicious lunch, and engage with speakers. We heard from UW-Madison plant breeders about efforts to develop varieties suited to SW Wisconsin’s climate. June Russell, with Green City Markets in New York City, described two policies that help create markets for small grains. Farm hosts, Paul Bickford, and John and Halee Wepking described the conservation practices they use, how small grains help them diversify their market and weather risk, their plans for on-farm processing, and how their value-added marketing has benefited them as well as others in their community. George Reistad, Food Policy Director with the City of Madison, described ways to make local small grains accessible, and baker Kirk Smock with Origin Breads explained his bread baking and marketing strategies, using Meadowlark grains. Questions poured forth for these and other speakers just about as steadily as the rain had earlier that day.

Photo: Farmer Halee Wepking and MFAI Board member and Madison’s Food Policy Director, answer questions about food marketing and low-income food access.