Turkey Red Winter Wheat is an heirloom variety of hard wheat introduced to the US in the 1870s by Mennonite immigrants who were fleeing Tsarist persecution in what is now Ukraine. Unlike modern day, high-yielding, dwarf varieties, this grain grows very tall, creating lots of straw and biomass for the soil. It is a landrace variety, meaning it contains genetic diversity making it adaptable across bio-regions. It is one of the most popular revival wheats used by American bakers, treasured for its flavor and digestibility.
NuEast Hard Red Winter Wheat is a modern hard winter wheat bred at NC State in 2009 to bring hard winter wheat production to the southeast. Historically, NC has grown almost exclusively soft wheats (lower protein, better for crackers, noodles, etc). But, in response to a growing demand from the resurgence of small bakeries, we are glad to have a hard wheat variety that is reliable and high yielding to offer at a more affordable price.
Appalachian White Wheat is a modern hard winter wheat also bred at NC State in 2009. Similar to NuEast, it was created in order to make North Carolina a producer of high protein bread wheats. It is a semi-dwarf variety with long awns that look stunning in the field. White wheats taste slightly less bitter than red wheats, making them an appealing option for some bakers who want to use more whole wheat without the extra strong flavor and darker color.
Sungold Spelt is modern cultivar of spelt. Spelt is a much older grain than wheat, so this takes the cake in terms of old genetics. It is a very high protein grain that grows well in our area. It has a hull on it, which makes it difficult to process, but it also helps to keep the deer away from it. We love this. Bakers and brewers love it too. While spelt does contain gluten, the gluten’s molecular structure is more fragile and breaks down faster. It also has a much lower amount of the carbohydrate fructan, making it easier to digest than wheat for many people.
Cateto Orange flint corn is an heirloom variety of corn, originally hailing from South America. Traces of its genetics are found in many commonly grown modern varieties of maize today. Even still, this particular variety is probably the rarest variety of grain that we grow. While popularly grown in Argentina and Brazil in the late 1800s, a version of it made its way to Cuba in the early 1900s, where it became known as Maiz Argentino or Especial. Because of its relatively low soft-starch content, as well as its rich orange color, Cateto is ideal for cornmeal and polenta.
Bloody Butcher dent corn is an heirloom variety of corn that has been grown in Appalachia since at least as early as the mid-1800s. While we do not know its exact origins, we know that it was grown in Tennessee, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Small family farms have been diligently saving its seed generation after generation. It is prized for its distinctive beautiful color and unique flavor. Folks grind it for grits, cornbread, brewing, and distilling. It gets its name from the deep red color speckled over the surface of each kernel (reminding one of a butcher’s apron). NPR did a nice piece on it here: On The Trail to Preserve Appalachia’s Bounty of Heirloom Crops.
NOTE: The stories behind these grain varieties are amalgamations of our research. We are constantly revising them as we learn new information. We want to be careful to honor the hard work of all of the farmers who have perpetuated these seeds. If you know more information about any of these varieties, please email us to assist in perpetuating accurate histories.
Grains expected for 2020 harvest
Turkey Red Winter Wheat
NuEast Hard Red Winter Wheat
Appalachian White Winter Wheat
Cateto Orange flint corn
Bloody Butcher dent corn
Ethiopian Blue Tinge Emmer is an ancient wheat that exhibits a beautiful blueish-purple hue on its berries. Emmer, also known as Farro in Italy, is one of the oldest cereals cultivated by humans, often found alongside barley and einkorn in neolithic archaeological sites. Even though it contains a significant amount of protein, it does not form very much gluten, making it more difficult to work with when baking bread without support from additional stronger flours. This fact also makes it appealing to those who are sensitive to gluten, as it is purportedly easier to digest than modern wheats. It has a wonderful flavor, lending itself to multiple uses, whether cooked in whole berry form, made into pasta, or as a flavor contribution to baked goods.
Crops previously grown
Red Fife Winter Wheat is an old variety of wheat, very commonly grown for bread-making in the 1800s. This is another very popular revival wheat in the bread world, for similar reasons as Turkey Red, but it was popular before Turkey Red came on the scene. It is prized by bakers.
Sonoran White Wheat is one of the more interesting storied wheats. It is even more rare than Red Fife and Turkey Red. We like to think of it as a grandfather grain to the Green Revolution. It also is responsible for the wheat flour tortilla that we all know of as part of Mexican American cuisine. It was revitalized by an awesome organization called Native Seeds/SEARCH. Check them out and support their work! Slow Food did a nice piece on it here: White Sonora Wheat
Abruzzi Rye: This is a great heirloom rye that has roots here in the South. It is a very tall growing Roman variety. Another very popular revival grain among bakers and brewers. Delicious taste! It is also commonly used as a cover crop.
Rhymin Rye is a tall growing variety of rye, grown mainly as a cover crop in our area. There is not much known about this variety, but we believe that it is of German origin. Since it has not been bred for grain production, its genetics have been less played with, which is often a good thing for flavor and nutrition. Bakers have really liked it. It is sweeter than the Abruzzi and a bit more novel.
Yadkin Red Wheat is a modern soft red winter wheat bred at NC State. It has been grown in the piedmont of NC for many years. While it has most commonly been used for baking and distilling, we believe that it will be great for brewing as well.
Czech Red Wheat is a very special variety that David Bauer of Farm and Sparrow Bakery obtained as a handful of seed from one of his interns who traveled to eastern Europe. We've been growing it out so that we can have enough seed to grow a proper crop and share it around. It is a gorgeous color and is supposed to be of great milling quality.
Einkorn is the oldest of the grains we grow (the order from oldest to youngest going: einkorn, emmer, barley, spelt, khorasan, modern wheat). It has been dated as far back as 10,600 years ago in what is now Turkey. It is prized for high nutrition, easier digestibility, and many bakers love it too.
Black Nile Barley (Purple Barley) is an old variety that is deeply purple, almost black, containing lots of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is also found in red beets and purple cabbage. It's gorgeous. And unlike most barley, it grows without a hull, which makes it easy for us to offer it to bakers, not just brewers. They say that while the aristocracy of ancient Egypt was dining on emmer, the common worker was eating barley. We are looking forward to see how this grows in our area.
Blue Bearded Durum is an old variety of durum wheat with beautiful dark blue awns. Durum is a very high protein wheat that is used for pastas, couscous, and bread. Semolina flour is made from durum wheat. We had great success trialing this in 2016, before some sheep got into out plot and devoured it.