The Grain Gathering: Building an Interconnected Food System Through Bread


Words and photos by Communications Manager, Molly Goren

“100 years ago, 90% of us were home bakers,” Dr. Stephen Jones tells a crowd of sleepy bakers, farmers, and brewers at the 7th annual Grain Gathering.

It’s 4:30am, and we are preparing for a sunrise wheat field walk just outside of The Bread Lab in Skagit Valley. In addition to serving as a research center for Washington State University plant breeders, Jones’ Bread Lab is also home to the King Arthur Flour Baking School. Thankfully, that meant we were able to sneak in to the kitchen for a whole grain croissant, fresh-from-the-oven, topped with lemon curd and Bow Hill blueberries before our stroll. The smell alone of butter and nutty grains woke us right up.

Throughout the weekend, Steve was sure to underscore the word “gathering” within the event name. “This isn’t a conference,” he told us. “Poke your head in to workshops, even if you don’t have a seat. Take it all in. Think of these three days as the beginning of an ongoing dialogue.”

The Gathering is designed to bring together folks from many sectors of the food movement, with the end goal of creating a sustained local grain economy that elevates the unique characteristics of the place we call home. Of the nearly 300 attendees, 7 countries and 26 states were represented.

From sourdough and ramen workshops to tours of the milling facility and lectures on the Farm Bill, the Grain Gathering reaches across the spectrum of our food system with its offerings.

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Washington State University