The Staff of Life: Cultivating your own Small Grains
Hobby Farms, September/October 2006

It's so easy, even a kid can do it!







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When you decide to farm, you connect to an agrarian lifestyle dating back to the dawn of civilization. Vegetables out of the garden, fruit from the orchard, a steak from your own back 40, yet somehow, bread and the small grains that comprise it never seem to make the team. I’m not talking about planting your garden to a weed-smothering crop of buckwheat. Instead, I’m talking about the wheat, rye and oats grown in a garden plot to turn into wholesome, home-baked loaves of bread.
It should come as no surprise that the average Frenchman eats twice as much bread as his American counterpart. While the typical French schoolboy is gnawing on a crusty loaf, his American peers are rolling little balls of Wonder™ into marble-sized missiles. My research on bread started in France, and I returned to the States with a wad of sourdough starter carefully tucked into the toe of my sneaker. My family watched from a safe distance as I scraped the contents of my shoe into a ceramic crock.

They were cautious, having survived the exploding bottles of Belgian Cherry Ale in the cupboard. My wife had finally forgiven me for the rainbow trout that swam against the artificial current of its tank and lay gasping at the back of her underwear drawer. And as for the composting worms under the sink … Who knew they were nomads at heart when left to their own devices? At least my family could console itself with the thought that the bread “ordeal“ would be less dangerous, less messy and certainly less smelly, than what had preceded it.

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