April 10, 2017

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Flours, Grains & Beans – oh my!

As rich, varied and textured as our market is, one thing has always gnawed at me: our lack of local grain and flour.

Clearly, our shoppers are committed to eating/cooking “local” and that includes their wheat, oats and spelt and farro. But getting individual grain farmers to market has proven difficult. Enter, The Heritage Grain Share, New England’s First CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for flour, grains and beans.

The grain share was the brainchild of Ben Lester who for many years ran the beloved cafe and bakery in Amherst, MA., called Wheatberry which used local grain and flour in their baking. He knew how superior local grains were and wanted to spread the gospel of great grain. Determined to find a way to get local buckwheat flour, heirloom beans, heritage wheat and cornmeal, among other items, to as many New England pantries as possible, in 2008 he launched a grain CSA. Back then, the most you could expect from a CSA were hyper-seasonal vegetables, like a winter box of nothing but rutabaga and celeriac, for example. Ben set out to change that.

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“We’ve been growing, grinding, popping and cooking up a storm ever since!” he says.He started a grain CSA as a farmer but realized over time that he could be more effective spreading rather than sowing the seed, as it were, all the while helping other small farmers get their businesses off the ground, by focusing exclusively on the distribution process.

I am very happy to report that Ben will be bringing his grain shares to the CFM on the first Saturday of every month starting May 6th, opening day. You can buy your shares at market or order them in advance (starting at $185 a season) on their website LocalGrain.org. Each grain share is comprised of a variety of ancient grains, stone-ground flour, oats, corn and heirloom beans. They are grown at Aurora Mills and Farm in Linneus, ME, Green Thumb Fryeburg, ME, Small Valley Halifax, PA, Stan White Hardwick, MA and Alan Zuchowiski Hadley, MA. All are grown according to organic practices, some certified organic.

Opening day can’t come soon enough.