Heritage Grain Alliance

August 22, 2022.

With the help of over 150 grain trialists who joined us during six deep years of finding, growing and sharing heritage and ancient grains that have been adaptive to the Western United States, and beyond, we have decided to continue the Heritage Grain Trials by forming our own, independent, Heritage Grain Alliance. We invite YOU to join us!

We still believe deeply that the heritage grain trials will continue to build the foundation for the future of sustainable and regional food systems. From 2016 through 2021, the Rocky Mountain Heritage Grain Trials program watched small handfuls of seeds grow to pounds and pounds of grains to be shared with hundreds of farmers, gardeners, researchers, bakers, brewers and chefs. As a start to the next chapter, we would simply like to jump in where we left off, with the network, knowledge, and seeds that we have been growing together, and take this revival to the next level-a Grain Revolution! We heartily encourage and welcome our former trialists, and we look forward to new trialists and supporters who want to join this important journey.

If you are already a trialist from RMSA’s former Rocky Mountain Heritage Grain Trials, you are invited to continue your work with our new Heritage Grain Alliance. You will be “grandfathered” and “grandmothered” in and receive the same benefits as our original program.  Stay tuned for a forthcoming email from HeritageGrains.org to learn how to subscribe to your free membership, and feel free to reach out to Lee-Ann (Lee-Ann@HeritageGrains.org) if you would like immediate assistance.  If you have seed to share from our previous work together, or have seeds grown from your trials already that you would like to share, we would love to add them to the collection.

As for the “Top 20,” we still have bulk seed available to share with the same hope of doubling returns and continuing to scale up and share.  Please let us know if you are interested in any of these varieties.

GET INVOLVED IN THE HERITAGE GRAIN REVIVAL!

Seed Packets

Start growing grains in your gardens, in pots on your patios, and on your farms.  Fortunately, this is much easier now with the list of hundreds of rare, ancient and heritage grains we have assembled over the past 6 years.  Individual packets are available here each for $5.95 handling charge.  (This helps cover our costs to clean, package, store and mail the seeds.)

Heritage Grain Alliance Membership

If you want to dive deeper and support the scaling up of these unique grains, you can officially join our Grain Trialist Program here for a $50.00 donation. You will be able to request seeds for up to 10 varieties a year for free, aside from shipping costs. We will offer support and resources for growing grains, and can help you get started using the most appropriate grains for your needs and location.  As a member, you will also have access to seeds that are in smaller quantities until we are able to once again scale up on these varieties.  As a member, you will also receive 20% off on our educational offerings including Bill McDorman’s book Basic Seed Saving (link here).  Scholarships for membership are available.  Please contact Lee-Ann (Lee-Ann@HeritageGrains.org) for more info.  We welcome the passionate.

Beginner trialists are asked to limit their first request to 2 -4 packets.  If you are successful, we ask that you return to us twice as much seed or more of those varieties that did well for you.  We will distribute them to others and in this way continue to grow the program.

Supplies are limited. In some cases we are starting with one hundred, or less, seeds.   We ask that you consider varieties that you will actually grow and help us to scale up.  We are still in transition and will update the collection page as more seeds become available.  Check back early and often.  You can download here a spreadsheet of all of the varieties we had available before.  If you see something you want and it is not yet offered, please email bill@heritagegrains.org.

Email lee-ann@heritagegrains.org or bill@heritagegrains.org if you have questions.

Thank you for your dedication to grains, seeds, and new beginnings.  If you would like to contribute to this effort in additional ways, please let us know.

Together for Grains,

Lee-Ann and Bill

Hourani Durum Wheat – 2,000 years-old

Seed School Wild Heart Farm
The growing out, sharing, and scaling up of Ancient and Heritage Grains has to be a grassroots effort. The more we get growers and gardeners involved, the more diversity we can steward.  Please continue to grow out these seeds, become a part of their story, and share them. If you want to continue to grow out these grains in a trial style, we encourage growers to pick out 4-6 varieties for their first trial and then choose 2-3 to grow at a larger scale for your culinary consumption or to share seed stock with other grain enthusiasts.

Help us trial and grow heritage grains to rekindle thriving, localized grain economies all over the world.

As we dig out from under the industrial storm to build a more sustainable agriculture, how do we find the deep rooted, drought-tolerant, disease-resistant grains that work best for our region among the tens of thousands available?  The USDA 1922 Classification of Wheat Varieties gives us the names of the most popular grains growing in each state before the use of chemicals.  Since we only found a handful of seeds or less of most of these varieties, we need your help to increase seed and to share simple data about how they worked for you.

Locally grown grains are the missing component in many regional food systems. The Heritage Grain Alliance aims to revive the production, use, and cultural experience of locally grown heritage grains in our region’s communities. Our ultimate goal is to create a vibrant system of farmers, millers, bakers, and brewers throughout the Mountain West who can give new life to ancient grain varieties and ensure this diversity is preserved and enjoyed for generations to come.

Origins of the Heritage Grain Trials Project

In early 2016, RMSA held a Grain School course at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS). Along with graduating 24 students, this course gave rise to an exciting new collaboration of grain farmers, breeders, and researchers. The Arkansas Watershed Grain Project (as the group came to be called) set out to first identify ancient and heritage grain varieties that will perform well in their area, and then to increase quantities of the best performing varieties for use by local farmers. In doing so, they are building the necessary seed stocks and laying the groundwork for a new local grain economy to emerge.

The Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance partnered with the Arkansas Watershed collaborative and UCCS to expand this project across the entire Rocky Mountain region. The initiative closely aligned with RMSA’s mission to strengthen seed diversity in Rocky Mountain communities through local networks of seed stewards. Returning heritage grains to active use in a network of growers, processors, and consumers is a powerful way to ensure this diversity lives on. It also becomes a boon and source of pride for a region’s culinary culture, with local restaurants and artisans creating delicious breads, beers, pastas, and other delights from their own heritage varieties.

We are modeling this work on the exciting local grain revival taking place in Southern Arizona, where heritage grains like White Sonora wheat are once again being grown, processed, eaten, and celebrated throughout the region. RMSA co-directors Bill McDorman and Belle Starr were involved in these efforts and are now helping to implement this model in the Rocky Mountain West.

How You Can Stay Involved

The growing out, sharing, and scaling up of Ancient and Heritage Grains has to be a grassroots effort. Please continue to grow out these seeds, become a part of their story, and share them. If you want to continue to grow out these grains in a trial style, we encourage growers to pick out 4-6 varieties for their first trial and then choose 2-3 to grow at a larger scale for your culinary consumption or to share seed stock with other grain enthusiasts.

Want to dive deeper with heritage and ancient grains?

Join the Heritage Grain Alliance and have access to hundreds of varieties of grains, and help us scale up our seeds to share with growers and farmers around the globe.  Also receive 20% off educational offerings and resources.

Stay tuned for the Waves of Grains podcast coming soon!

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