Small Grains and Emerging Markets: A Panel Discussion at the 2017 Farm Progress Show

Looking for ways to build soil health? Diversify your farming operation? Feed your community? Join Illinois Stewardship Alliance at the “Partners in Conservation” Tent during the 2017 Farm Progress Show, August 29 – 31st in Decatur, IL, for a panel to discuss “Small Grains and Emerging Markets.”

Small grains, for our purposes, include barley, wheat, oats, triticale and heirloom corn, and the demand for these products is growing in Illinois.

Conscientious consumers are on the lookout for locally-raised breads, beer, and other grain products, while a new wave of bakers and brewers seeking high quality ingredients is raising the profile for artisan grain products. New infrastructure for milling and processing local grains is growing up around this increasing demand, and farm entrepreneurs are finding ways to add value to their small grain products by malting and milling on their own farms.

In addition to growing consumer demand, there is also growing evidence that including a third rotation of small grains into corn-soybean rotations may play a vital role in building soil health, suppressing weeds, reducing herbicide resistance, and improving the long-term sustainability of farms. With depressed corn and bean markets, small grain production provides a real opportunity for farmers to improve both the financial and environmental health of their farms.

The panel features 4 leaders in the small grains industry in Illinois, including:

Harold Wilkens of Janie’s Farm, Danforth, IL. Harold has been a leader in growing small grains and recently planted over 2,300 acres. He has also opened a mill to serve Eastern Illinois farmers. Learn more

Molly Breslin of Breslin Farms, Ottawa, IL, Molly and her father have been growing small grains and unique bean varieties on 87 acres since 2010. They have been leaders in bringing small grains to the Chicago market and sell their products through direct-sale to consumers as well as wholesale to restaurants and retailers. Learn more

Bill Davison, University of Illinois Small Farms and Local Food Systems Educator and organizer of the Grand Prairie Grain Guild, Bloomington, IL. Over the course of the last 4 years Bill has led the movement for small grains variety trials and has been influential in connecting farmers and buyers. Learn more

Greg Wade, Head Baker at Publican Quality Bread, Chicago, IL. With an already extensive career in bread-baking, Wade is not only the Head Baker at Publican Quality Bread, but also runs the bread programs for One Off Hospitality Group, working hand-in-hand with the company’s chefs to develop new breads to fit each restaurant’s menu. Meanwhile, Wade continues to build authenticity into his breads, with a focus on fermentation and sourcing the best local grains for loaves with dimension and integrity. Learn More

The panel will be hosted by Illinois Stewardship Alliance from 2:00 – 3:00 pm in the Conservation Tent on 26E in the Southeast Quad, near the giant soil pit. The Alliance is one of the many members of the “Partners in Conservation” hosting the Conservation Tent at the Farm Progress Show this year and working to help farmers implement practical conservation practices on their farms.

Panels on a wide variety of farming and conservation-related topics will be held from 10:00am – 3:00pm in the Conservation Tent each day of the three-day event. In addition, visitors to the tent can see a Rainfall Simulator Demo, a 1935 Soil Erosion Service pickup truck, USGS Research Boat, and a freshly dug soil pit that can be walked through and examined first hand. Lastly, visitors have the opportunity to learn about conservation and ag resources offered by all 21 “Partners in Conservation” with booths stationed in the tent.

Purchase your tickets for the Farm Progress Show

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