Grains & Grasses workshop with Nick Romanowski

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  1. Fern O.

    Fern O. Junior Member

    Dec 5, 2005
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    Grains and Grasses Workshop
    Sunday March 20th 2011
    9am to 5pm

    Location: Barwon Downs & Forrest, Victoria, Australia
    Contact Fern to register

    Nick Romanowski is widely known for his many books on wetlands and aquaculture, and also books and articles on diverse plant groups with an emphasis on edible species, including regular features for the ABC’s The Organic Gardener magazine. He and his wife Jan Ratcliff have also established orchards of nearly 400 fruit and nut trees on their property in the Otway Ranges of southern Victoria.

    Over the past twelve years Nick has been researching and taking photos for a practical guide to all the grains (and many other grasses) grown worldwide, from cool areas with a short growing season to the tropics. This workshop will emphasise the grains, bamboos and other seed crops suited to south-eastern Australia, including growing, harvesting, storing and processing on a small scale, whether for personal use or livestock.

    Outline of the workshop

    The grasses (especially the cereals) are by far the most important family of food plants worldwide. Rice, wheat and maize are the three most important crops in terms of total production, but barley, rye, sugarcane and numerous other grasses are also grown on a considerable scale. They are also used for livestock feeds and brewing beers and spirits, while the bamboos are used on a large scale in construction and housing as well as planted for food.

    This workshop will begin with a thumbnail history and evolution of grains, particularly those suited to south-eastern Australia, and then goes on to environmentally sustainable ways of growing and using many species.

    * Planting using natural rainfall. All cereal crops were originally grown in climates where they would produce their harvest with no irrigation, and most still are. By choosing appropriate species you can do the same in any climate suitable for agriculture, from the Arctic to the tropics.

    * You can raise four kilograms of potatoes on a square metre of soil compared to a quarter kilogram of wheat on the same area, but the potatoes will use up to 2,500 litres of water, and are 80% water by weight. By contrast the wheat measure is dry weight, and it can be stored alive for five years or more with no special technology!

    * Wheat, barley, rye, rice and other major temperate grains.

    * Understanding maize, and selecting varieties for cooler climates.

    * Specialised grasses – wildrice, the many species of millets (both water-loving and drought-proof), triticale, sugarcane, bamboos, etc.

    * Pseudocereals and other edible seeds, especially buckwheat and high protein species such as amaranths.

    * Harvesting and storing, including how natural carbon dioxide production can be used to inhibit pests and vermin.

    * Learn to process grain on a small scale when you need it - whole grain is killed by processing, and can start to turn rancid within three days in warm weather. Make flour with small stone and hammer mills suitable for the kitchen bench, or sprout the seed to increase digestibility and food value for both humans and livestock.

    * Grains (and substitute foods) for poultry. Most poultry meals are based on ground grains with unsustainable additions such as sea fish harvested by ships dependent on diesel. However, genuine free-range chooks can be fed on unmilled grain alone. Research during the second world-war in England not only showed that much of this of could replaced by other foods such as acorns, but also worked out the ideal proportions of the replacements! Poultry can also be used to prepare ground for grains.

    * This will be a hands-on workshop where you will see ancestral wheats such as einkorn and emmer, see growing millets including wild species, and meet living trees such as chinquapin oaks with real potential to partly replace grains as livestock food. You will also be able to see small domestic grinders in action, and if there is time taste the difference between chapattis or other simple breads made from freshly ground flour.

    Please note that there are limited places available for these workshops and places are given to those who are first to fill out their registration form and pay in full.

    Cost per participant per workshop:
    $220 (with lunch, morning and afternoon teas provided)
    $200 (self catered)
    $180 (Bring lunch, morning and afternoon teas food to share)

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