9.3.12

Red Fife and Descendents

This is the name of the afternoon program that was skilfully compiled by Dr. Ron DuPauw of SPARC.  SPARC is the acronym for Semiarid Prairie Agriculture Research Centre.  It is a research centre within the family of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

FYI, Ron DuPauw is a recipient of The Order of Canada.  This is the highest recognition within our country.  He is the Senior Principal Wheat Breeder.  His resume shows a series of publications that would impress any scientist.  He definitely knows his wheat.

What surprised me most is that this is the first time consumers, producers and scientists have come together for a trialogue about wheat.  I think that we all know what the benefits are when all these levels of people who are interested in our food supply get together.

We had presentations from a very auspicious group of scientists and a local organic farmer. Dr. Nancy Ames of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals in Winnipeg spoke of the 'Health Benefits of Wheat'.  And yes, it is a healthy food.  She predicts that more promotion of wheat's health benefits will appear in the near future.

Another Nancy, Dr. Nancy Edwards with the Grain Research Laboratory in Winnipeg presented some wonderful research  discussing 'Determination of End Use Suitability for the market class Canadian Western Red Spring' (of which Red Fife belongs).  I found this especially interesting for my new found diversion of baking artesanal bread!  I will be using the information as a confirmation of my findings through practical experience and will not second guess my instincts so often.   Both of these presentations were from Winnipeg via live video feed.

Dr. Ron DuPauw with SPARC gave us a light-hearted view of the historical background on wheat from its origins over 7000 years ago to the present  day.  As a Saskatchewan 'born and raised on a farm' woman, I felt we 'owned' wheat.  Not so!  But we grow a very high quality product.  A very impressive genealogy chart left me speechless.  The subject of this afternoon's presentations was Red Fife and this chart showed the descendants.  I would not even begin to count them.  I am modestly estimating over 100 cultivars.

Holly Peterson is a local organic farmer of Red Fife.  She gave us a nice snapshot of the current utilizations of the grain within Canada today.  Read more about her grain in Slow Food Vancouver.  They have a 5000 acre organic farm south of Tompkins, Saskatchewan.

And lastly, Navid Bezghaleh, a PhD student from the University of Saskatchewan, barely scratched the surface on a discussion of 'wheat roots with soil mycorrhizal fungi - comparing old cultivars with new cultivars'.  I think it might be the consensus that we would like an entire session on this whole 'wave of the future' branch of planning your planting.

Thank you so much to all the presenters.  I have not, in many years, had the opportunity to attend such an interesting and educational session.  I had no idea of the resources that were available to me.  It was greatly enjoyed by everyone, presenters and participants alike.  Thank you to Dr. DuPauw for initiating this inaugural meeting of consumers, producers and scientists.

We ended the afternoon by smelling and tasting wheat berries of 11 varietals, unlabelled!  It was a test to see if we could differentiate one from the other!  I was dead wrong in identifying the Red Fife! ( I think there should have been some coffee beans to cleanse our palate between each sniff, eh!)

I am sure that I speak for everyone that we would like this sort of thing to happen on a more regular basis.  Visiting the Research Centre was fondly reminiscent of my university days in Saskatoon at the College of Home Economics.  There is a Research Centre adjacent to the campus and it was just a part of our campus life.

12 comments:

  1. This was so informative and a rare opportunity. How fortunate we are to have these resource people in our community. Sarah, do you remember which number the Red Fife turned out to be in the sniff test? My guess was #10 (or 5 or 7 in that order).

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    1. It was #6! I was wrong, too! Yes, it was a rare opportunity. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

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  2. Wow what a day you had. I am a complete geek about this stuff. Red fyfe is hard to come by here... mostly have to order it which makes it really expensive. I'm hoping a local will start raising it... Great post.

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    1. You know, why don't I just mail some to you. I will be ordering in about a month and can send some for you.

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  3. What an interesting meeting! would love to sniff different varieties of wheat too!

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  4. It was very interesting and informative. And although I could not pick out the Red Fife, there were a couple of grain samples that had very little noticeable scent.

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  5. Sounds like it was a great afternoon! Very educational - hopefully I will be able to attend a future session. Love the work you're doing Sarah!

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    1. I won't take credit for this day but perhaps I was a catalyst! It was a fantastic afternoon.

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  6. What a fascinating post, Sarah. You are indeed fortunate to have an event like this nearby to take advantage of and I appreciate your sharing the information with us.

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  7. How fortunate you are to attend such an interesting event Sarah! Thanks for sharing the experience with us!
    Cheers

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  8. Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. After 30 years in Maryville (her whole life for Bev) we moved about 20 miles SW to Greenback, but Maryville is still our go-to town.

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  9. What an interesting event. I can't say I new anything about wheat so I was glad to learn a bit - and now I know the name Red Fife. What a great mix of thinkers were together in that room.

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