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July 12, 2020

Happy summer! Harvest season is in full swing, and farmers are beginning to move fall-planted grain from fields into storage. One of the things I value most about AGC is our work making visible all the facets of the grain value chain in our region—for example, from farmer to miller to baker. Building awareness of the work of each essential step required to get grain from a seed to our plates is crucial; when we better understand the efforts and challenges of each moving component, we can appreciate everyone’s contributions that much more.

—Alyssa Hartman, AGC Executive Director

Bakers are inherently generous.

It comes with the magic of turning flour and other ingredients into gifts to be shared. As the nation reeled from the murder of George Floyd last month and awoke to the depth of danger Black and other people of color face on a daily basis, the #bakersagainstracism bake sale was born. Launched by three Washington, DC bakers—Paola Velez, Willa Pellini, and Rob Rubba—this call to action spread like wildfire, and became a global movement to raise money for Black-led groups working for justice. 

Since flour is one of our middle names, the Artisan Grain Collaborative had to join. Inspired by Ground Up Grain, a mill in Western Massachusetts that led a big bake sale in their region, AGC hatched a plan. Through the support of the Chicago Region Food System Fund, AGC purchased all-purpose flour from Meadowlark Organics to support #NeighborLoaves bakers and others in the region who wanted to participate. Bakers in our area also used flour from other AGC member mills, including Janie’s Mill and Baker’s Field Flour and Bread. 

Sample treats offered in BAR bake sales (L-R, top): Black Cat Bakery, Elemeno & ORIGIN Breads, Lost Larson; (middle): Petal & Moon Pastry, Muddy Fork Farm & Bakery, One More Piece Pastries, Petal & Moon Pastry (bottom left and right), plus a special loaf from Madison Sourdough (bottom middle). 

A group of Milwaukee bakers including Black Cat Bakery, One More Piece Pastries, and Neighbor Loaves bakery Stone Creek Coffee—organized by Chef Katie Simpson—collectively raised $8,480 for Love on Black Women.

In Madison, WI, Elemeno & ORIGIN Breads teamed up to raise funds for The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, which works to support the health of Black women and girls. 

Chicago bakers Lost Larson, Floriole, and Petal & Moon Pastry (formerly Pain de Chicago) raised money for the Urban Growers Collective, a local Black-led nonprofit organization that manages urban farms on 11 acres of land in Chicago with the aim of increasing food security and sovereignty. Floriole also donated to Brave Space Alliance. Evanston-based Hewn donated sales of Alfajores Cookies to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Bloomington Indiana's Muddy Farm & Fork Bakery baked for La Crosse, WI-based chef Adrian Lipscombe’s 40 Acres & a Mule Project (read more about this below).  Muddy Fork has also been donating to Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network and Mississippi First; we will feature Eric and Katie’s work in our next edition of The Crumb

In Minnesota, Doughp Creations and Baker's Field Flour and Bread also baked for the cause. This roundup doesn’t begin to include all of the bakers that lent their time and talents to support the Black projects and businesses in their communities last month. What we hope it does do is show the breadth of the coalition that came together behind this important initiative. Across the country, the bake sale raised more than $1.6 million for Black-led organizations and justice initiatives.

AGC looks forward to continuing to support farmers, millers, and bakers as they participate in this annual event and others in the future. Thanks to everyone who came together to make it happen.


Did you reply to the question we posed about sourdough baking in our last edition of The Crumb for a chance to win a copy of Bryan Ford’s recently published book, New World Sourdough? We’re always looking for more ways to engage with you, our readers, and this one worked out well for Danya Dhanak. When we notified her, she said she had recently made the sourdough naan recipe from Ford’s blog, Artisan Bryan. Danya, along with our other winners, Greg Lam (from Instagram) and Leah Conover (from Facebook), will be receiving their copies soon. 

Janie’s Mill is now carrying New World Sourdough in their online store, so if you're still looking for a copy, head there to buy one.

AGC was recently awarded a grant from the Chicago Region Food System Fund (CRFSF) to expand the Neighbor Loaves program. This article in Agri-News describes the work of some of the first nine organizations CRFSF funded, which includes Black Oaks Center for Sustainable Living, an AGC member we featured in our last newsletter.

Join us on Thursday, July 16 as we take over the CRFSF Instagram account (@chicagoregionfoodsystemfund)! We’ll debut our Grains Glossary, talk about why we love the word 'collaborative' in our name, and share stories of the people working to make our value chain robust.

The 40 Acres & a Mule Project, brainchild of chef/baker Adrian Lipscombe of Uptowne Cafe in La Crosse, WI, was launched June 7th to fund the purchase of Black-owned farmland and share Black foodways. Food and Wine picked up her story mid month, and this week, the crowdfunding campaign hit its $100,000 fundraising goal. Congratulations, Adrian! 

Image: @40acresproject

Two Madison, WI breweries, active members of AGC's Brewing & Distilling Working Group, are among nearly 1,000 beer producers in the U.S. and beyond to join in the Black is Beautiful Beer Campaign. The initiative is a nationwide collaborative effort to "raise awareness for the injustices people of color face daily, and raise funds for police brutality reform and legal defenses for those who have been wronged." Giant Jones, shown in this ABC news piece, and Delta Beer Lab are among 17 breweries in Wisconsin, 26 in Illinois, and 38 in Minnesota to join the effort.  

See you in two weeks!
Copyright © 2020 Artisan Grain Collaborative, All rights reserved.

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