At the start of February, as the snow fell and the sky brooded, the grain growers of our Welsh and Scottish networks grabbed a coffee, signed on to Zoom, and settled in for a long day of talking oats, bere barley and human-scale equipment. In times gone by this would have been done up and down the countryside: growers meeting at the start of the season to swap stories, hardships, and seed. Indeed, it was the plan to revive this custom by getting our Welsh and Scottish oat and bere barley growers together to share experiences. In the time of Covid, a techno-meetup was the best we could do, but the day was dusted with poetry, music, and stories and the event managed to achieve what we set out for – solidarity and hope for the coming growing season.
The offerings of the day included academic research on genetics, discussions of how to fortify and advance the movement, demos on processing heritage grains into baked and brewed goods, and an exploration into human-scale machinery that was once an essential part of our grain heritage and is now a crucial missing link for our growers.