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The Kneading Conference Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary

Kneading Conference poster

The Maine Grain Alliance is proud to celebrate the 10th annual Kneading Conference on July 28 & 29, 2016, at the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds. In its 10th year, the Kneading Conference reflects on the last decade in local grain by welcoming Amy Halloran, author of The New Bread Basket: How the New Crop of Grain Growers, Plant Breeders, Millers, Maltsters, Bakers, Brewers, and Local Food Activists Are Redefining Our Daily Loaf, as the 2016 Keynote Speaker.

work study with dough at KC 2015

For two days, the Kneading Conference is home to all-star baking instructors, professional bakers looking to sharpen their skills, and home bakers looking to perfect their technique.  This year, the Kneading Conference celebrates returning instructors who have a following of their own, such as Richard Miscovich and Ciril Hitz, both professors teaching culinary students artisan baking at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. Michael Rhoads will be leading 15 professional bakers as they hone their craft of wood-fired production in a 2-day intensive workshop that will mimic a micro-bakery setting.

pretzels in wood fired ovenThe Kneading Conference also opens its doors to many first-time presenters, including authors, bakers, maltsters, brewers, farmers, and millers. Baker and author Chef Zachary Golper, who moved to New York in 2011 to open Bien Cuit and just published his first cookbook, Bien Cuit: The Art of Bread, will be leading an extended workshop on incorporating local grains into artisan loaves. His wife, Kate Wheatcroft, co-owner of Bien Cuit, will be paired with Ben Flanner, of the Brooklyn Grange, and Molly Culver, of Molly Culver Flowers, for a panel discussion on entrepreneurship in New York City and the challenges of sourcing locally.

hands on a pile of sand building an earthen ovenThis year’s Kneading Conference will offer participants interested in building their own baking ovens two single-day workshops in oven construction. Stu Silverstein will be returning to teach students how to build an earthen oven for outdoor use. This low-cost, fully insulated oven is ideal for cooking at home. David S. Cargo is joining the roster to share his knowledge on portable stacked-brick oven building. At the end of David’s workshop, participants will fire the oven and learn to make flatbreads, pizza, and, (of course) bread.

The Kneading Conference got its start when a group of Skowhegan residents were motivated by the need to address wheat production as an important cornerstone of a growing local food movement. The first Kneading Conference was held in July of 2007 in the heart of Somerset County, Maine, where wheat production fed over 100,000 people annually. This year marks a milestone for the Maine Grain Alliance; through its Heritage Seed Restoration Project, the Maine Grain Alliance now holds the most Sirvinta Wheat seed in the western hemisphere. The 2016 Kneading Conference will be showcasing the work of seed savers at this year’s conference with two distinct workshops. Eli Rogosa, author of Restoring Heritage Grains: Baking with Einkorn, collected and restored landrace wheats for decades in Europe and the Mideast in cooperation with gene banks and traditional farmers. Eli will be leading a workshop on the history, biodiversity and hands-on baking skills for ancient wheat, with a focus on baking with einkorn. Richard Roberts, the Maine Grain Alliance’s Heritage Seed Restoration Project Leader, will be weighing in on a seed panel to share his insights on small-scale grain growing.

For the full presenter line-up and Kneading Conference schedule please click here.

"farm to table"

The Maine Artisan Bread Fair follows the Kneading Conference on July 30, at the Skowhegan Fair Grounds. Home to over 40 vendors, the Bread Fair celebrates real bread and everything associated with this ancient staple.


For additional information please contact Erin Scally, Program Director for the Maine Grain Alliance,

Featured Image of Portland Fish Exchange courtesy of Susan Tompkins, Rising Tide PR