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Feeding Ourselves with Local Grains

Jack.Lazor.Early.RiserDownload an excerpt of The Organic Grain Grower by Jack Lazor and get 35% off the cover price below.

Did you know that the yogurt you get from Butterworks Farm is made entirely with milk from their own herd of cattle? And did you know that they feed those cows year round with grass and grain from their own land? How about their butter… or their cornmeal… or their oats, or their various flours… or their flax oil? All are from their own land.

Like you, we care a whole lot about where our food comes from – and Jack and Anne at Butterworks Farm can point to the fields that feed their farm… and your family.

This sort of single-source organic operation is only possible because of Jack’s passion for growing grain. For over 35 years, he’s been learning from the previous generation, experimenting on his own, actively engaging with his peers, and passing the traditions on. He is widely regarded as a leader in the movement for growing grains in cold climates.

The Organic Grain Grower

Use the code CGP35 for a 35% discount at Chelsea Green$45.00 $29.25

Now he’s put all of that wisdom into a book… one that will become standard reading for organic farmers in the Northeast and beyond.

You can get a copy at your local book store or online at Amazon, but we’ve been able to arrange something special for the Farmers To You community.

If you buy direct from Chelsea Green, the publisher (always a good way to go as they take the greatest financial risk in our new media age…) you can get 35% off the cover price.

The publisher has also given us permission to offer a download of the introduction and first chapter. In the excerpt Jack chronicles grain growing in New England from pre-colonial days through to the (re)awakening of the organic food moment (who knew that Maypo cereal was originally made and sourced in Vermont?) and shares his own story of beginning to grow grains.

Here’s a sample:

Anne and I began our farming careers as back to-the-land homesteaders on a small farm in Irasburg, Vermont, in May 1975. We were equipped with a lot of idealism and a truckload of old farm antiques we had brought with us from Wisconsin.

My first project was to trial six different varieties of heirloom flint corn that I had obtained from the USDA seed bank. (I found out all about how much raccoons like flint corn that first summer.) Anne and I took many trips to the Eastern Townships of Québec that first summer together in northern Vermont, and we were surprised to see so many fields of golden ripening grain during our travels. In August, there were combines everywhere harvesting the oats and barley. The fact that all of this grain was growing quite well only ten miles away across the border was all the proof I needed that I could do this on my side of the border, too.

And so we bought our first sixty acres in Westfield, Vermont, in 1976 and grew our first six acres of wheat, corn, and barley in 1977. Planting was done with an antique $25 horse-drawn wooden grain drill pulled by a 1954 John Deere 40 tractor, and we bought a six-foot John Deere grain binder (reaper) and a Dion threshing machine in Coaticook, Québec, for $250. We spent most of the month of July readying the reaper for the upcoming harvest and procuring new canvases from the Amish in Ohio. We ended up buying a second grain binder from Doug MacKinnon of Barnston, Québec, for extra parts. (Doug had used this machine well into the 1960s to reap his and his neighbors’ oats.) Beginner’s luck was with us, and we successfully reaped and stooked all six acres of our wheat and barley. We powered the stationary thresher with a sixty-foot endless flat belt attached to the belt pulley of our old Super M Farmall tractor.

Five or six old-timers from our area provided us with lots of help, support, and good advice, and the general consensus was that field-cured grain reaped, stooked, and threshed was far superior in taste and color to its modern counterpart direct cut with a modern combine. The old guys were right—our wheat was quite dry and golden-red in color. Another neighbor, Milton Hammond of Newport Center, let us use his small grain cleaner and buhr mill grinder to make whole wheat flour for our first loaf of homegrown whole wheat bread.

We thought that we had arrived, but little did we realize that our grain-growing adventure had just begun.

We’re so proud to partner with people like Jack and Anne – pioneers who are rooted in the past while forging the future of farming and food production. It’s an honor to bring you their bounty each week.

Download the full excerpt

Use the code CGP35 for a 35% discount on the hardcover edition at Chelsea Green$45.00 $29.25

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