The Grain Gathering, an annual convocation of 250 people from many walks of life passionate about growing and eating grains, was held Aug. 20-22 at Washington State University in Mount Vernon, WA. A number of King Arthur Flour employee-owners participated, including baker/teacher Jeffrey Hamelman, who files this report.
The Grain Gathering is perfectly named.
Its focus is on grains of all varieties – wheat, rye, barley, buckwheat, and an array of "ancient" grains.
It's truly a gathering.
It brings people from all parts of the grain world together – the proverbial farmers, millers, and bakers, both professionals and dedicated amateurs.
Were it a conference, attendees would likely show up at 9 a.m., register, listen to a few speeches, and disperse at the end of the day.
The gathering aspect of the Grain Gathering is rather different from a typical conference: attendees show up at 7:30 a.m., have breakfast of just-baked bagels from a wood-burning oven, various spreads, and pickles and other delights.
Then after some morning commentary from Dr. Stephen Jones (a wheat breeder, director of The Bread Lab at Washington State, and the prime mover of the Gathering), we listen to the perspectives of a keynote speaker. This year's gathering featured two European women, one from Spain, one from Denmark, both of whom are mill owners and bakers.
There are morning workshops of all varieties.
Lectures about gluten or sourdough...
...a class on building a stone mill, and hands-on classes are offered on all manner of subjects.
I was fortunate this year to use a wonderful wood-burning oven for the class I taught, in which we made a wide array of flatbreads.
Lunch follows, and again we all eat together, generally winding up in a different group at each meal.
There's plenty of time for socializing.
The afternoon sees more classes, and when those are over, it's time for more socializing, this time sampling several local beers (and even whiskey this year), before sharing dinner together. And the next day? Repeat...
I wouldn't be alone in describing the Grain Gathering as the pre-eminent event of its type on this continent. The 2 1/2 days are filled with inspiration, learning, socializing, making new friends, and connecting with dear friends and colleagues whom we never seem to see often enough.
King Arthur Flour is proud to support the Grain Gathering.
And it's with immense pride that I say that King Arthur Flour has been a first and foremost supporter of the Grain Gathering since its inception. We're partners in this endeavor, and that partnership is one more way that the skill of bakers (and farmers and millers) and the overall quality of the baking world in North America is steadily improving.
Want to know more? Read The Grain Gathering: a baker's perspective, part 2.
Our thanks to Martha Holmberg, who provided the photos for this post.