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Revitalizing Food, Communities & Economies in the Rocky Mountain West

Locally grown grains are essential to successful and sustainable local food economies. And it's not just about the environmental impacts - the social, health and economical benefits to our communities are plentiful as well.

To inspire a revival of localized grain systems across the Rocky Mountain West, Grain School offers innovative curricula and access to experts to help train and empower people to grow, mill, and steward heritage grains in their communities. By returning heritage grains into active production, we can help restore cultural pride and prosperity in our communities, linking together bakers, maltsters, brewers, chefs, and consumers.

About Grain School

Established in 2012 in Arizona, Grain School has evolved into an interdisciplinary course at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS), with the first Grain School held at UCCS in 2016. During this three-day seminar held annually, students can earn credit by taking courses in the history of land-race grains, crop breeding, nutritional and health issues, baking, fermentation and cooking, and small-scale production techniques. Representatives from the entire industry from growers, millers, farmers, brewers, distillers, maltsters, bakers, chefs, food service staff or personnel, college students, and gardeners, contribute as part of this great exchange of learning and teaching.

Whole, organic and heritage grain for all

Revitalizing local and organic food systems-and the heritage seeds that support them-is of the utmost importance for the health and prosperity of both people and the planet.

Heritage Grain Trials

Across the Rocky Mountain region, growers are working on a concerted effort to rebuild grain seed stock which aids in diversification and sustainable agricultural practices like crop rotations and cover cropping. Through careful research and comparing a broad range of grain varieties, these trials help identify the grains best suited for the Rocky Mountain region so farmers are set up for success. Because the grain chain involves many professions, and thus, may unlock economic potential, grain trial yields also need to be tested in milling, baking, cooking and brewing to consider their variable qualities and flavor profiles.

Health and Nutrition

Whole, organic, ancient, and heritage grains are nutritional gold medals. Research shows that whole grains are not only associated with a lower risk of major chronic diseases, such as diabetes, but also a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease. More research is needed to explore how the inclusion of heritage grains and its processing - from milling or fermentation, for example - affects health outcomes such as diabetes risk or a person's sensitivity to gluten. Grain literacy education is needed to increase awareness and knowledge of the history, qualities, and characteristics of ancient and heritage grains, including those traditionally grown by native cultures, as well as in promoting cooking and baking skills for adults and children.