By Kathleen Pierce, Bangor Daily News

Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of grain zealots, wheat from imported Estonian seeds is now sprouting in test plots across the state, part of a two-year trial to find what varieties of grains can grow well in Maine. The hard winter wheat called sirvinta seems to thrive here. Soon you may see even see bakers offering loaves of this nutty grain.

“Last year we harvested and replanted 150 pounds and this year we harvested almost 900 pounds,” said Amber Lambke, executive director of Maine Grain Alliance and owner of Maine Grains in Skowhegan.

Under the auspices of the Alliance’s Heritage Seed Restoration Project, “the idea is to get grains growing and make them adaptable to New England,” said Alliance board member Richard Roberts, who also experiments with Einkorn, Black Emmer and Danish “Midsommer” rye, among others.

The Alliance has propagated sirvinta on small plots in Solon, Lincolnville and Parkman and now holds the largest volume of this rare, heritage seed in North America. Results of the two-year “Sirvinta in the Seed Project” will be released to Alliance members this month. The trials, from millers to bakers, were roundly successful.

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