Farmers Marketing: July 26, 2008

There's too much to talk about these days and not enough time to write it all down.  It's the best part of the season at the market, with raspberries, peaches, corn, and tomatoes all here already. It's the time of year when dinner practically falls onto the plate and it's hard keeping the house from collapsing into a whirling vortex of fruit flies. 

The main news of today was talking again with Archie Jennings of Jennings Bros. Stone Ground Grains in Nashville, Michigan.  Here's what I learned. They are growing their heritage grains organically on 450 acres just outside the tiny 2-horse town of Nashville. Two horse might be going too far - it may be just a one-horse town.  They used to run 2500 head of hogs every year with just Archie, his wife, and his kids, but now they don't do hogs.  He says it's pretty tough growing organically.  Archie said he has 8 kids and none of them are still on the farm.  All of them are college graduates - one is just finishing a PhD.  

I like the fact that Archie always has some yummy samples on hand. Today he had some blueberry cherry muffins that his wife had made this morning with their  just-ground wheat flour. I didn't used to think that the flour I used made a difference in what I baked, but I have changed my mind.  You can totally tell the difference in things made with really fresh, high quality flour. It brings an entirely new range of flavor to my biscuits, pancakes, muffins, bread - everything tastes more complete somehow. 

I bought some spring wheat flour that Archie said had been ground yesterday. He told me also that I should store it in the freezer because the germ would disintegrate within 72 hours.  He said I can buy flour in 5 pound bags (though he just brings the smaller 2 pound bags to market usually), I just have to call him first to order the bigger size in advance. 

Next time I'm over in the Nashville area visiting my mom, I told Archie I'm going to call him up for a visit. He said Molly, the new Market Manager, had already done an inspection visit. I'm interested in seeing how they grind their grains. And I'm going to visit Moo-ville Creamery - the dairy where there's a milk pipeline from the barn to the ice cream parlor.  And Apple Schram Organic Orchard, in Charlotte, with its organic apples and apple-fed pork. And then I'm going to stop at the new Waldorff Brewpub and Bistro in Hastings for some of their excellent Strawberry-Rhubarb Ale. 

Here is the list of what Jennings Bros. sells: 

Organic Buckwheat Flour

Organic Spelt Flour

Organic Hard Red Spring Wheat Flour

Multi-Grain Flour (1/4 buckwheat, 1/4 spelt, 1/2 hard red spring wheat)

Hopi Blue Corn Meal

Bloody Butcher Corn Meal

Truckers Favorite Corn Meal

Hickory King Corn Meal

Reid's Yellow Dent Corn Meal

Black Aztec Corn Meal

I will soon be making some cornbread with my Bloody Butcher cornmeal, and probably pancakes with my new spring wheat flour.  Did I mention what a nice guy Archie is? I believe he grew up in the south and can tell a story with the best of them. 


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