“Perennial” vs. “Annual” Grain
Today, the farmers of the world follow the same rituals that our ancestors have passed down and relied upon for generations. Every year, the seeds are planted, the grain is harvested, and then the plants are taken from the field… But, what happens to the land, stripped of its nutrients and weakened by erosion? The soil must be tilled, and nutrients must be reintroduced into the soil. Only then may new seeds be planted to grow and flourish there once more…
But, what if there was another way?
For many years now, scientists at The Land Institute of Salina, Kansas have been developing a new “perennial grain”. This means that grain can be harvested without removing the entire plant from the field. These plants can stay in the soil and produce new harvests, year after year.
Kernza® originates from a forage grass called Intermediate Wheatgrass (Thinopyrum intermedium). Scientists and farmers at The Land Institute went through multiple rounds of selecting and inter-mating the best specimens to finally give rise to their patented creation: Kernza®.
These plants have a resilient root system that can reach as far as ten feet into the soil! Strong, plentiful roots help to fight erosion, capture more nutrients, and provide the plant with more water than those of traditional “annual” grains.
As a living plant, Kernza® can also reduce greenhouse gases by trapping significant amounts of carbon within the soil. These hearty plants also contribute to the surrounding wildlife, providing a good habitat for pollinators and other creatures that share the land.
How does it taste?
With its deep root system, Kernza® usually takes on a strong terroir of the land on which it is grown. This grain boasts a sweet, nutty flavor, due to the high ratio of bran to starchy endosperm. Other grains are heavier in starch, which can lead to greater yields, but also less flavor.
Bakers all over the world are eager to experiment with this new grain! However, there is limited supply, as the awareness and demand for Kernza® is still growing. That’s why we feel that it is vital to support this new movement and encourage others to do the same.
Good Earth is currently in the process of creating a Kernza® bread in our very own bakery. So, keep your eyes open for this revolutionary new grain!