Uprisings: A Hands-On Guide to the Community Grain Revolution

Written by Sarah Simpson and Heather McLeod

Reviewed by CISA Staff

Off the bat, Uprisings is a good introduction to the local grain movement, compiling stories throughout North America of local grain producers, businesses, consumers, and grain CSAs. It has chapter-by-chapter action plans on how to take control of staple grain crops (wheat, barley, etc.), get more of them planted and consumed in your community, and great ways to incorporate whole and sprouted grains in your own diet. The how-to sections of the book are packed with easy to incorporate steps for every person in the grain chain. It has the same message most “eat local” books do, but by including some Western Massachusetts local folks, it is a local grain book worth reading.

There is a whole chapter on our very own Local Heroes, Hungry Ghost Bread, and their 2008 Little Red Hen Project. From the opening of their bakery in 2004, Jonathan Stevens and Cheryl Maffei wanted local wheat in their bread. Western Massachusetts farmers weren’t about to bet acres on an untested crop, in a region where all of the wheat processing infrastructure has disappeared. Stevens and Maffei talked with farmers, did research, and launched the Little Red Hen Project in 2008 by planting their own wheat patch in the front of the bakery and asking customers to follow suit. A success, the project taught the community about wheat growing, tested various wheat varieties that suit Western Mass soils and climate, and linked Hungry Ghost to Four Star Farms, a Northfield family farm that was looking to diversify from their turf business and is now steadily supplying local wheat to the bakery.

Other inspiring stories of communities taking back their grain producing and processing and conferences that bring farmers, millers, bakers, and researches together. Chapters on The Kootenay Grain CSA is credited for starting the first ever grain CSA in North America, a by-product of the now famous locavore book, The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating and Skowhegan, Maine’s Annual Kneading Conference, showed why local grain has slowly seeped out of farmland in many areas, what needs to happen to have it grown locally, and how groups of like minded people can organize, create and change the nature of their landscapes, communities and diets. The book also credits the work of the Heritage Grain Conservency for increasing the growing of red fife in New England, and the expansion of grain CSAs to Local Heroes, Wheatberry Bakery and the Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain CSA.

Uprisings: A Hands-On Guide to the Community Grain Revolution, was printed in 2013 and is published by New Society Publishers.