Farmer Baker Brewer Summit highlights local grains

A farmer, a baker, a brewer, and a distiller walk into an old bakery…

It sounds like the setup to a joke, but earlier this month 50 farmers, bakers, brewers and distillers all walked into an historic Alton bakery (now the Old Bakery Beer Company) to talk about something they all have in common – grain – and how they can use and source more local and specialty grains in their products.

“Local farmers, bakers, brewers, distillers, their customers need not abandon their economic relationships outside of the community but must give priority to local if they are to sustain the productivity and quality of life in their community.” —John Ikerd

This message was delivered by the summit’s keynote speaker, John Ikerd. John is a leader in advocacy, research and education in sustainable agriculture and an author and Professor Emeritus from the University of Missouri. He kicked off the day with an inspiring talk about the need for regenerative agriculture in our local food systems, stating that:

“What is required is a fundamentally different model of agriculture based on diversify­ing farms and farming landscapes, replacing chemical inputs, optimizing biodiversity and stimulating interactions between different species, as part of holistic strategies to build long-term fertility, healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods.”

Following the keynote address, the day was divided into panel discussions with panelists from farms, bakeries, breweries and distilleries across Illinois and Missouri. The conversations of the day highlighted the need to create a food system that not only supports local food, but that also works sustainably with natural living systems. Discussions included how NGOs (non-government organizations) like the Spence Farm Foundation are bringing farmers, bakers, and health care professionals together on the farm and at Bread Camp in an effort to change the way they think about food. Talk topics covered numerous aspects of using local grains in the food and beverage system, including: grain sourcing and distribution, baking breads from small batch, specialty grains, the benefits of growing new perennial grains like Kernza®, producing grains for distilling, licensing and permitting, and the challenges of getting local barley malted for use in local beers and spirits. Confluence Business Advisors kindly donated their services to film the entire program. Stay tuned for video of the event and more farmer, baker, brewer & distiller highlights.  Here is a link to the event’s facebook page.

You can view the slide show from the event here.

The Summit was hosted by Food Works and ReGenerate IL, and was co-sponsored by Prairie Rivers Network, Confluence Business Advisors, Fresh Taste, Hewn Bread Bakery, Union Loafers Café and Bread Bakery, Missouri Coalition for the Environment,  Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Slow Food St. Louis, Old Bakery Beer Company, Missouri Grain Project and Southern Illinois Farming Alliance.