in Chatsworth, Grey Highlands, Southgate, West Grey
September 21, 2023
The first Great Lakes Grain Gathering took place on Sunday September 17, 2023 at Kimberley Community Hall. It was an event where grain growers, bakers, brewers, enthusiasts can communicate, learn, network and make connections with each other.
Organizer Lauren Hambleton is the owner of Red Hen Artisanale in Priceville, Ontario in Grey County. She provides baking workshops, cooking classes and other food experiences.
Hambleton had travelled to Main in July of 2022, to attend a Kneading Conference. Inspired by what she experienced there, she decided to create a similar event in Kimberley, Ontario.
Hambleton's goal was to create an event to build community, create connections, educate and converse while sharing differing points of view, such as organic versus conventional methods of growing grains.
The event was sold out. There were 65 people who registered for the event. Most of the registrants were home bakers, with some commercial bakers, millers and brewers.
Participants came from as far away as Ottawa with the average distance being 100-150 km away.
Speakers included Chris Wooding from Ironwood Organics who delivered the keynote speech. He spoke about heritage grains, the resurgence of stone mills, the growing distrust of big food systems and methods he employs on his own farm.
During a baking demo, Dawn Woodward made rye gingerbread cake and chocolate buckwheat cookies. She is a grain activist, committed to putting sustainable regional grains back on tables. Evelyn is located in Toronto.
Mary-Katherine Boss and Dianne Wolters from Second Spring spoke about sprouted grains, beans and flours.
Jesse Merrill from Polestar Hearth spoke on his journey from micro bakery to store front bakery in Guelph, making naturally leavened bread.
Angela and Tyson Devitt spoke about growing and milling flour at their business Stone Bridge Flour on their farm near Ripley. They sell 6 types of flour and 9 baking mixes at retailers and online.
Phil Winters spoke about Goodlot Farmstead Brewing Co.
Hambleton has received positive feedback from event participants and she hopes that the Great Lakes Grain Gathering will become an annual event at a larger venue with more space for baking demos and presentations.
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