UNITY— More than 200 people attended the first annual Bread and Brews festival at Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s Common Ground Education Center on Saturday.

The festival, which was a collaboration between MOFGA and the Maine Grain Alliance, celebrated Maine’s thriving grain industry by featuring beer tastings from more than 11 different breweries, bread baking and beer brewing workshops, live music and food trucks.

Attendees were also invited to camp overnight and enjoy the “breads and spreads” breakfast on Sunday morning.

The festival was created because both MOFGA and the Maine Grain Alliance wanted to think of even more ways to get the word out about local and organic grain production, according to Tori DeLisle, MOFGA’s membership and development director.

“We have a close relationship with Allagash and the Maine Grain Alliance and we were just thinking of ways to collaborate with them,” DeLisle said. “And through that we came up with the idea to celebrate Maine-grown grains by hosting a festival. I think festivals are always a great way to get people to show up but I think ours specifically is pretty unique because we are highlighting the local and organic grain production here in Maine and doing so by showcasing two big things that come from the grain production, which is bread and beer.”

MOFGA’s communication and outreach director, Katy Green, said the festival was a way to let people know about the “grain renaissance” happening in Maine.

“Maine has a history of growing grains,” Green said. “We’re seeing a lot of businesses starting to use grains and farmers are starting to grow them again so we thought this event would be a fun way to get people out to the education center and show them that a grain renaissance is happening in Maine.”

DeLisle also mentioned that MOFGA plans on making Bread and Brews an annual event.

“This is the first Breads and Brews but we want to make it an annual thing,” DeLisle said. “But we want to grow the festival. We want to add even more events and offerings. We’re just getting started.”

Sarah Alexander, MOFGA’s executive director, said that MOFGA wanted to make Bread and Brews an annual event because of the positive feedback she’s received from the community and the festival’s participants.

“All of the brewers and vendors have told me how excited they are to be here,” Alexander said. “I’ve also heard really great things from attendees. People think this is a great way to get people out and trying something new while educating them on organic grain production. I’ve gotten positive feedback from all over.”

Among the vendors at Saturday’s festival was Eli Rogosa, a decorated author, grain farmer and founder of the Heritage Grain Conservancy.

Rogosa travels the world to collect rare ancient grains in order to bring them back to the United States and grow them.

According to Rogosa, the grains she works with are nutritionally superior to modern day grains because there is a lack of chemical interference and this is something to which she wants more people to be aware.

“We want people to have nutritious food that won’t make them sick,” Rogosa said. “I’m gluten-intolerant but I can eat heritage grains all day long. It’s the same for other people who have problems with gluten.”

The festival also included a “bread baking with sea vegetables” demo which was presented by Jim Amaral, a champion in the local grain economy and owner of Borealis Breads.

The Bread and Brews gathering has joined the list of other Maine grain-related events that have cropped up in recent years such as the Kneading Conference, the Craft Brew Festival,  the Maine Artisan Bread Fair and weekly farmers’ markets.


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