Growing Grain: A History and Holistic How-to for the Future
Emphasizing small-scale and ecological methods, The Organic Grain Grower is a truly complete guide to organic grain production and a testament to Jack Lazor’s life’s work in keeping local grain growing alive and well.
For years, local grains were the missing link in the locavore diet. That is changing, Lazor says, and a Grain Renaissance is emerging as more small-scale organic farms begin to experiment with grain growing, and find ways to bring these processed grains to market.
Since 1976, Jack and Anne Lazor have been inspiring farmers and eaters alike with Butterworks Farm organic yogurt, cheese, milk, kefir, and more. Though the Westfield, Vermont farm is largely successful due to dairy production, Jack’s other passion lies in growing grain.
What began as a six-acre homestead striving for self-sufficiency has expanded to a 350-acre highly respected organic grain growing operation. Through years of experimentation and hard work, Lazor learned to feed himself and others, including his animals, and to break free of corporate-controlled seed and manage his farm holistically.
Lazor’s passion for grains is evident in this wide-ranging book that will benefit both the homestead grower and professional farmer. The Organic Grain Grower provides in-depth information on a wide array of key topics, including:
- nutrient density and building soil fertility;
- grinding grains for livestock rations;
- Pregrowth, Soil quality, tilling, seed sourcing, and planting;
- Growth, harvest, storage, sale & other uses; and,
- Extensive instruction on and information about individual crops, such as corn, wheat, oats, soybeans, and more.
With more than three decades of firsthand grain growing experience under his belt, Lazor, co-founder of the Northern Grain Growers Association, asks important questions such as, “Can we develop a viable regional food system that includes local grain? What sort of infrastructure will have to be put in place to accomplish this dream? How does grain growing fit in to the context of an increasingly erratic climate that makes agricultural activities even more challenging? Can we grow grain crops and improve soil fertility at the same time?”
Lazor argues the need to integrate grains on the organic farm (not to mention the local food system) for reasons of biodiversity and whole-farm management—both crucial in today’s quest for greater soil and farm resiliency in an age of climate adaptation.
“Jack Lazor did not wait for a new movement to inspire him. Jack inspired the movement,” writes acclaimed organic farmer and author Eliot Coleman in the Foreword. “Jack began reclaiming the small farm’s grain heritage right from the start of his farm many years ago. That is why this book is such a delight. These are the words of someone who has talked to all the old-timers and done it all himself. It is like acquiring hundreds of years of knowledge in one book. And he presents everything in an appealing, storytelling manner that will have you sitting up late reading page after page.”
Whether you’re a first-year homesteader or a longtime farmer like Lazor, The Organic Grain Grower is a book you’ll return to again and again.
Read the Foreword at the Chelsea Green website.