By Adam Austing, University of Minnesota Extension Educator
University of Minnesota Extension-Wright County and the Crow River Food Council are partnering to share the exciting characteristics of Kernza with area farmers, food makers and sellers, and those interested in new sustainable crops and food products. This will be taking place at a farm South of Buffalo from 6:30-8 p.m. tonight (Tuesday, July 27). Registration is encouraged to help plan for this free event. Register at www.z.umn.edu/KernzaFieldDay.
Kernza is the trademark name for the perennial grain harvested from new varieties of intermediate wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium). As a perennial, Kernza is planted once and provides several years of harvestable grain. Kernza has a deep root system that provides multiple environmental benefits. This new perennial grain can increase farm income due to decreased inputs and costs from reduced tilling, pesticide requirements and nutrient runoff. Supply chain partners are turning Kernza into tasty products such as beer, bread, and baked goods.
The evening will kick off with a chance to see the crop firsthand. Connie Carlson, with the University of Minnesota Forever Green Initiative (FGI), will share some agronomic and environmental characteristics of Kernza. FGI, in partnership with The Land Institute (Kansas), has been engaged in research and development of Kernza for over 10 years. The University of Minnesota research team includes breeders, agronomists, soil and food scientists and economists working together to improve Kernza and bring it to market. Current research is focused on increasing seed size and yields, measuring environmental benefits and building supply chains and market opportunities.
Farmer Stan Vander Kooi will go over his experience planting, growing, and harvesting the crop. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions about growing Kernza and how to utilize the grain once harvested. Later, baked goods made with Kernza flour will be available to try, thanks to Kristi Varner of Gather Kitchen in Buffalo. Come out to enjoy an evening on a local farm and learn about a sustainable opportunity for farmers and foodies.
To learn more about Kernza go to www.kernza.org. Questions regarding this event or growing options for farmers can be directed to Adam Austing by calling (320) 249-5929 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.