The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

A little look at Ithaca Heritage Grains

arlo's picture

A little look at Ithaca Heritage Grains

As some of you know, I was chosen to work with Sharon Burns-Leader, Jeffery Hamelman, and a few other wonderful bakers from the East Coast all of tremendous talent and charm. So much was done in such little time, and yet still so much more research is being done on growing heritage grain varieties to bring them back to market. I know that my time spent at Wide Awake Bakery this past weekend was one of the most memorable moments of my career to date.

Oh, yes, I was nervous. Yes, I didn't feel like I was deserving of being there. And yes, we baked some bread.

I was awfully busy and had little to no time to take pictures, but there was a wonderful young women named Allison who put together quite a site to commemorate our studies. The site can be found here;

I am the silly fellow with lots of tattoos and orange glasses. There is also a flickr of pictures too! That can be found here;

This was the first day, I am seen mixing up one of the heritage varieties sourdough. We worked with eight kinds of wheat and were not allowed to know which kind either until the end.

There was many parameters, protocols, and evaluations for us to follow. Under the guidance of Jeffery, we all did our best, and we did it well.

I have been trying to figure the correct words to say about this event, but I think it will be easier to summarize why this research has been ongoing and still has a few years left to complete.

It is an attempt to find whole, sustainable, value-added organic grains, bringing back economically viable grain farming to the East again. Pretty short and to the point right? Can't say I ever really liked typing a lot ; )

Check out for abit more info on the topic.

I sent my greetings from those who wished, to those in need of hearing. I met amazing people I would have otherwise never had the chance to cross paths with. I explored a great city, ate some great food, and took part in something larger.

And over dinner one night with Mr. Hamelman, I believe I was too choked up with trying my best to answer all his questions and thought provoking considerations he was asking me that I may have forgotten to say this in its entirety, but perhaps I did in other words. But what I have come to realize with all my time spent working in bakeries is that why I bake is because it goes beyond me, it is for something much larger. Community is a start, culture is a part, but it is being a small part in something so much more that I simply can't see doing something else.

I am flying back out this coming weekend and working at a very nice bakery in New York for the weekend. It is a job offer I am rather excited over, but my nervous nature is already making me in a tizzy. I will have more info on that at a later date!

Finally, I mean no harm in sharing the photos and linking to these websites. If the photographers mind, please contact me immediately and I will remove them. Otherwise, thank you.




Mebake's picture

Way to go Arlo! Joining Mr. Hamelman for a dinner must have been exciting enough, let alone talking to him. 

Sounds interesting. Looks like things are tipping towards the favor of the Artisanal bread movement in the united states. It is sustainability that makes this whole process so worthwhile.

You seem to enjoy yours days at the event quite well, Arlo, despite the challenges. You have achieved a milestone here, and i expect you to have bright future. 

wishing you all the best,

p.s. I was reminded by your pastry diploma days when the topic of hot desserts in my pastry amateur classes reached to baked souffle. How time flies!


chouette22's picture

What an interesting read this morning, with links to wonderful photos. It is inspiring to hear more about this movement. 

MANNA's picture

Arlo, you were right in my backyard. Would have loved to come down one evening and meet everyone.

MANNA's picture

Arlo, you were right in my backyard. Would have loved to come down one evening and meet everyone.

isand66's picture

Great Post Arlo!  What an exciting and memorable event for you and the others participating.  To love what one does for a living is a wonderful thing as most people work to pay the bills and not because they love what they are doing.

I would love to hear about your potential job in NY as I'm on Long Island.


Janetcook's picture

Hi Arlo,

Thanks for the update and the links.  Very exciting to read about what is happening in your part of the country.  Looks like there was a huge amount of information to digest with so many really talented people involved.  So nice to see such a variety of people all working together towards the same goal. Inspiration being transformed into action just as flour, salt and water are transformed into bread.

Take Care,


dabrownman's picture

The idea of ranking and rating heirloom varieties of local grains using a blind test among so many qualified to do so is something that needs to be done. What a great way to reintroduce  a viable, quality, local grain in useful quantity.  Well done and I hope that this experiment works out well as does your job prospects in NY,

Happy Baking 

golgi70's picture

I got to help with a testing here in California but it was ill prepared and only 2 people with nearly no preparation.  We learned quickly this type of baking is harder than the daily grind with so much going on.  Must have been lots  of fun.  I look forward to next year and a better testing



dmsnyder's picture

Being able to participate in such a noble undertaking with other bakers of such stature is a marvelous, inspiring experience. Thanks for letting us taste it vicariously, Arlo.


LindyD's picture

Great update, Arlo.   Had to be an awesome experience working with Chef Hamelman and the other bakers.  Thanks for sharing it, as well as the links.  Will be interesting to hear the results of the blind taste test and if there's any standout.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts about the New York bakery job offer, and whether it's in the city or upstate.