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Locavore bread lovers rejoice!

Bread

Photo (cc) Sifu Renka

When you think breadbasket, you don’t usually think Rhode Island. The Farm Fresh Local Grain Initiative aims to change that with the first loaves of bread completely made, from seed to plate, in Rhode Island.

THIS IS NO ORDINARY BREAD: from rye seed to rye flour to rye bread, it’s the first produced 100% in Rhode Island in decades. And if Schartner Farms, Kenyon’s Grist Mill, Seven Stars Bakery and the non-profit Farm Fresh RI have their way, it will be the first of many loaves. To celebrate this Buy Local RI small business success, Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts and RI Division of Agriculture Chief Ken Ayars will break bread with the three partnering businesses.

This April, Seven Stars Bakery will begin serving rye breads at its cafés and farmers market locations made exclusively with Rhode Island flour. The flour will first be featured in a Volkenbrot, an especially dense loaf that is a new addition at the bakery. The rye flour will be used in additional loaves as the season progresses, with plans for 100% of the rye flour in Seven Stars breads to come from RI farms by year’s end. Schartner Farms will also begin growing wheat for the bakery this summer for use in additional loaves.

“Thousands of Rhode Islanders will have the chance to eat locally grown bread that is incredibly fresh and supports the local economy through every step of its production,” said Hannah Mellion, an AmeriCorps VISTA at Farm Fresh RI. “This story, which began at a Rhode Island farm and ends on a Rhode Island plate, was created simply by linking neighboring small businesses. There are so many opportunities for local partnerships like this one. We see this as just the beginning of our Local Grains Initiative, and as usual with Farm Fresh projects, success tastes great!”

WHO’S WHO: THE FARMER, THE MILLER, THE BAKER
Rich Schartner, farmer/owner at Schartner Farms in Exeter, has been growing rye for years on the family’s 85 acre farm. Rye is planted as a cover crop to add nutrients to soil and prevent erosion. When life hands you thousands of pounds of rye seed, why not make flour and bread? In the fall of 2009 Farm Fresh RI reached out to Rich Schartner to explore this opportunity, and so the Rhode Island Rye project began.

Paul Drumm, miller/owner of Kenyon’s Grist Mill in Usquepaug, grinds flour in roughly 400 pounds batches and is located just six miles down the road from Schartner Farm. Over one hundred years old, they are best known for their johnnycakes and cornmeal mixes. Kenyon’s has always ground grains into meal or flour for local farmers, and has worked hard to source local grains whenever possible. The RI Rye project was an opportunity to honor that tradition.

Jim Williams, baker/owner of Seven Stars Bakery in Pawtucket, crafts a wide variety of artisan breads. The new availability of Rhode Island Rye flour offered an opportunity to source fresh-ground ingredients, support local agriculture and introduce new products into their bakery. To start, Seven Stars Bakery will be buying hundreds of pounds of RI Rye flour each month to create a special 100% RI Rye loaf. The loaf is now available for sale at Farm Fresh RI’s Springtime Farmers Market in Pawtucket, the bakery’s Providence and Rumford cafés, and its 5 other farmers market locations. Plans are to use RI Rye and wheat flour in more loaves starting this fall.

Farm Fresh RI’s Local Grains Initiative activates the Rhode Island food system and economy in new and exciting ways. The availability of RI Rye further links producers and consumers and provides valuable community-based economic development. The RI Rye, from harvest to loaf, traveled a mere 40 miles, provided income for three businesses and is only local bread flour currently available in Rhode Island. And the result is delicious! Other businesses and bakeries interested in purchasing the RI Rye Flour can find it online through Farm Fresh RI’s Market Mobile.

Join, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts, Ken Ayars of RI DEM Division of Agriculture, Hannah Mellion of Farm Fresh RI, Rich Schartner of Schartner Farms, Paul Drumm of Kenyon’s Grist Mill, Jim Williams of Seven Stars Bakery for the first loaf of Rhode Island Rye Project.

Monday, April 12, 2010 at 10:00am at Seven Stars Bakery, 820 Hope St, Providence.

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