On January 31, 2018, Clif Bar & Company, along with King Arthur Flour announced the funding of a 1.5 million dollar endowment towards organic grain breeding at Washington State University’s College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNERS). The endowment will be awarded to Stephen Jones, Ph.D., director of the WSU Bread Lab, who is regarded as one of the nation’s top wheat breeders.
The Bread Lab at WSU researches organic grain breeding to create farming grains that contribute to improving the long-term use and health of soils, and by extension, the planet as a whole. The Bread Lab also studies to create more nutritionally dense wheats and barleys that is not only beneficial to soil, but is actually preferred by local buyers, particularly those you use the grains for craft beers.
“As plant breeders, we make grain varieties that work for the farmer first, and then find their best use regionally for milling, baking, brewing and other uses,” said Stephen Jones about the work done at the Bread Lab. Jones also continued this statement, adding that the Bread Lab focuses on bringing the value of the region’s agriculture in the grains they create, bringing the best of the region’s qualities and characteristics to a product that is good for the environment, and that the people prefer.
Karen Colberg, co-CEO of King Arthur Flour also added to the conversation, stating, “We believe investing in this research is an investment in the next generation of farmers. If we can help to evolve the agriculture landscape through improved organic farming, we help farmers and we help meet growing consumer demand for more organic food.”
The good news does not stop with this first donation: Clif Bar & Company announced their plan to raise another 10 million dollars by 2020 fund the nation’s first endowed chairs in organic plant breeding at public universities in the United States. Even further, the Clif Bar Family Foundation has already awarded 1.4 million dollars towards 16 graduate fellowships in organic plant breeding cross the country.
King Arthur Flour’s involvement also extends further. In 2016, the company paid to open a Baking School at The Bread Lab, teaching professionals and home bakers how to cook with the different variations of grains produced at The Bread Lab.
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