The Bread Lab is part of a wheat breeding extension program of Washington State University in the Skagit Valley 80 miles north of Seattle, Wa. Led by Dr Stephen Jones, the purpose of The Bread Lab is sustainability and profitability in wheat production for the farmer, acknowledging, and planning for our changing climate, workability for the baker and good taste for all. Breeding at The Bread Lab happens in a laboratory setting, but they approach it no differently than what has happened in the fields naturally for centuries.
Skagit 1109 is a modern landrace wheat that will continue to evolve in the field, developed specifically for whole wheat applications. The goals for Skagit 1109 were simple; flavor for the consumer and high yield for the organic farmer with no chemical intervention allowed. The Bread Lab achieved this by combining 100’s of different varieties of wheat. While one variety may thrive here, another might thrive there. This allows the wheat to adapt to its environment, creating a truly unique wheat for whatever terrain it grows in. Steve jokingly calls Skagit 1109 “modern non-GMO ancient wheat”
Our friendship with The Bread Lab has given us a unique opportunity to grow some of this remarkable wheat here in the Champlain Valley. One tour of Aurora Farm/Nitty Gritty Grain with farmer Tom Kenyon, Dr. Steve Jones and myself and we had a deal. On September 23, Tom Kenyon and his son, Dave, planted 8 acres of Skagit 1109 along Lake Champlain on a beautiful old farm in Shelburne, Vt. The first time this wheat has been grown on the East Coast.
Tom and Dave Kenyon
Lynn admiring the beauty of Champlain Valley farming!
Over the years of working with different varieties, Skagit 1109 has been a stand out for flavor, and ease of use in the bakery. To say that I love it is an understatement. For me, this is the perfect wheat, with everything I look for. It’s bold, yet mild. Complex, yet simple. Working with it is consistent and “easy”. It does everything well, and it tastes amazing! Hopefully, it will perform in the field for Tom and his team as intended.
We’ll have to wait until next summer to see how it did, but we’re about to have our own wheat. Over several generations, it will start to take on the character of the land and the flavor may evolve as the wheat adapts to the unique environment and soil. Steve says now that Skagit 1109 is in the ground in Vermont, it’s ours. Our own unique wheat. We even get to name it. Stay tuned for updates!
October 1st, 2019