Weekly Farmers Market Digest: The Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project

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Farmer Alex Weiser is one of the friendliest faces at the Santa Monica Farmers Market. You can usually find him at the Weiser Family Farms stand chatting with chefs and regular customers alike. This week’s topic of conversation is his Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project, which aims to restore the heritage grains that once flourished across Southern California. Alex and pastry chef Clémence Gossett spoke with us about this latest endeavor.

Clémence Gossett and Alex Weiser
Pastry Chef Clémence Gossett and Farmer Alex Weiser (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

You wouldn’t know it now, but California was once the largest producer of grains in the nation. Its formerly rich grain history dates back to the 1760s, thanks to our ideal Mediterranean climate. Notably, heirloom grain varietals like wheat, barley and rye also have a low water requirement, which means they’re well-suited to this Golden State’s ongoing drought situation.

The Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project seeks to reestablish cultivation of these heritage grains through sustainable, holistic farming. By educating consumers about the many benefits—flavor and texture, to mention a few—of cooking and baking with these whole grain products, Alex and his coalition of farmers, chefs, bakers and brewers are on a mission to grow a local economy of people who care about the grains they consume.

In order to build the necessary infrastructure to support this, The Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project has begun an Indiegogo campaign to offset some of their equipment costs. Together, they’ve teamed up to offer fun perks like unique workshops and hosted dinners where you can actually learn and experience the plethora of uses for whole grains.

With just less than two weeks left to raise their funds, we’re looking forward to The Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project’s Dinner of Epic Heritage Grain Proportions, which takes place on Thursday, November 12, hosted by the Hedley and Bennett Apron Factory in Los Angeles. For $25, there will be all-you can eat pizza provided by Urban Pie and beer from Smog City Brewing Company, with all proceeds going directly to help fund the project.

For more information about Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project’s Dinner of Epic Heritage Grain Proportions, click here.

Also, you can find Clémence Gossett’s tips for baking with whole grain flour and her fall recipe for Sweet Apple Galette here.

Learn more about The Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project