Reviving the Golden State with Heritage Grains

| 10/16/2015 4:02:00 PM

Tags: heirloom gardening, heritage grains, biodiversity, drought, Ann Nguyen, California,


Wheat fields at Weiser Family Farms in Tehachapi. 

As California faces another year of the worst drought on record, a group of local farmers is turning to gold. We’re talking metaphorically about wheat, of course. After all, California is called the Golden State not for its gold, but for its once abundant wheat fields [1].

Alex Weiser, along with Jon Hammond and Nathan Siemens, are among a handful of farmers in the region who are experimenting with growing heritage grains such as Sonora White, Emmer, Red Fife, and Roman rye. The idea as well as the seeds came from none other than renowned seed saver and heirloom advocate, Glenn Roberts of Anson Mill.  Roberts donated 4 tons of historic landrace varietals to farmers to grow and to put to the test a long known wisdom: crops that are cultivated for nutrients and flavor are also more pest-resistant and drought-tolerant. What better way to test this theory than to grow heritage grains in drought-stricken California? After two successful plantings on 15 acres [2], the answers were clear.


Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills, Alex Weiser of Weiser Family Farms, and Jon Hammond of Linda Vista Ranch. 

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