Location: Farm and Sparrow, Candler, North Carolina
Featuring: David Bauer, Farm and Sparrow; John McEntire, Peaceful Valley Farm
A genetic grandfather wheat, landrace wheat has been introduced around the world and given birth to new geographically-specific varieties wherever it has landed. When industrially milled at high RPMs, the wheat’s components (endosperm, germ, and bran) rapidly separate. But older machines like the Osttiroler, shown here, from Austria, process the grains with a slowly turning mill stone that allows oils present in the germ to rub into and perfume the endosperm (white part of wheat). This retains the wheat’s native fragrance.
The difference between modern and heirloom wheat? That’s a good question. Modern wheats are bred to produce high yields but only when given high doses of artificial fertility dependent on fossil fuels. Heirloom wheats have a highly adaptive genetic database. Landrace wheat varieties, for example, are heartier and migrate across the globe. One variety, Turkey Red Winter Wheat, can manifest over forty iterations depending on environmental conditions.
“We need both modern and ancient wheats,” David says. “Modern ones feed the world. Ancient ones provide valuable breeding information to make agriculture more sustainable.”