Bridging Crop Diversity and Market Development in the Northeast Grain Renaissance
AbstractThe local food movement has grown significantly over the past several years, producing and marketing fresh fruits and vegetables, and meat and dairy. Recently there has been a push in the Northeastern U.S. to grow small grains, primarily high-protein wheat varieties for baking bread and for malting barley for brewing and distilling, for local and regional markets. University researchers, nonprofit organizations, and government institutions are supporting this advance in the regional food system by working with farmers to increase production of these crops and develop markets for their sale. This paper argues that these farming systems, starting with the early stages of field crop production work, should include diverse crop rotations that will provide farmers with multiple revenue streams, improve soil quality, and reduce the incidence and severity of pest outbreaks. Consumers in the existing and developing regional grain market will benefit from increased availability of fresh, flavorful, and healthy grains, beans, and oilseeds. The paper draws connections between the farming, research, and market-development communities that are working toward improved farm biodiversity.
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