River Valley Community Grains’ uses a collaborative approach to grain production with the aim of encouraging farmers to use regenerative agricultural methods and to help meet the growing demand for nutrient dense grains, local flour, “real bread,” and healthy cereals in our region. Our hope is that the farmer, miller, and baker will engage in conversation on how to create healthful, delicious flours and food, while holding a shared vision of restoring the soils, waters, and health of our communities.
River Valley Community Grains emerged out of a project known as Restoring the Musconetcong River Valley, which itself began as an intention to restore the soils, waters, farms, and sacredness of the river valley.
In an effort to expand the conversation and plan a course of action, a gathering of 50 or so people was held in February 2016 at Hawk Pointe Golf Club, which was envisioned and organized by Miriam MacGillis, founder of Genesis Farm, Mike Hozer, Lenny Bussanich, and Larry Mahmarian,
One of the goals of that gathering was to take concrete steps towards the formation of a local, organic grain hub. Dr. Elizabeth Dyck of OGRIN, who has been a tireless leader in promoting regionally-based, value-added, organic grain production throughout New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, led the discussion and shared stories of successful, small-scale grain enterprises in the northeast. It quickly became apparent that our region held tremendous potential to help meet the growing demand for “real” bread, nutrient-dense grains, and “local” flour, while providing economic incentive for farmers to transition away from chemical-based feed farming to regenerative agriculture.
With Elizabeth’s guidance, Steve Gambino of Villa Milagro Vineyards, took the leap and transitioned a field of soybeans into high-quality wheat, which was then stone-ground into flour. Samples of this first flour were given to Linda Curcio of Hampton Junction Restaurant and Bill Harper of Harper’s Bakery and Bagels, both of whom reported great results. A short while later, Lenny, Larry, and Mike formed River Valley Community Grains.
In October 2016, River Valley Community Grains worked with Nina White and Dr. Elizabeth Dyck to host a Local Flour Baking Class at Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse, which was very well received.
In January 2017, River Valley Community Grains was invited to organize and lead a gathering at the Middle Valley Community Center in Long Valley. Once again, Elizabeth Dyck was on hand generously sharing her experience and insights.
We are currently operating out of a community kitchen In Long Valley, known as the RedBarn Kitchen Incubator. It is here where we roll oats, grind flour, bag berries and strategize on how we will continue to carry out our mission of collaboration, regeneration, and restoration.
Thank you to all those who took the time to sit with us and share your experiences as we attempted to better understand the history and the present state of grains as well as for encouraging us as we reimagined local grain production through the lens of collaborative and regenerative agriculture.