Wheat for the World: Remembering the First International Conference of Wheat Landraces

First International Conference of Wheat Landraces

The First International Conference of Wheat Landraces for Healthy Food Systems is now history—an idea that came to life 3 years ago was finally realized in Italy at the thousand-year-old University of Bologna. (Check out my opening address below for the whole story of how this historical event began.) We had 125 delegates from countries all over the world in attendance and it was enormously satisfying to see the conference come together with so many people who brought so much to educate and inspire us.

For the first time, we brought together researchers, farmers, millers and bakers from all over the world, with an interest in wheat landraces and health. We had the great pleasure to hear from 28 guest speakers, as well as 24 presenters—that’s a lot of shared information! So many amazing people made this idea a reality but one in particular deserves special tribute: our conference coordinator, Emanuela. She worked tirelessly to pull the conference together and make it the success we enjoyed earlier this month.

The conference exceeded my expectations in every way. It was a bonus that it was also great fun! Over the course of the three-day conference, we achieved several goals (as seen on the conference website). Here are a few:

  • “We had the opportunity to exchange ideas and during our field day, we were able to view many of the wheat landraces growing side by side that were sent in by the delegates.
  • New ideas and thoughts were stimulated especially during our open session discussing ideas for definition of terms common to our work but not well defined.
  • We voted overwhelmingly (more than 90%) to have another conference in 2 years and to unite our efforts throughout the world by creating a new association.”

This incredibly memorable event was the third on my final checklist of big projects to complete before I retire. It’s a three-year retirement plan and I’m only 6 months into the first year. Not bad! The other two projects I’ve completed are the successful release of our KAMUT® story film (coming soon!) and leasing our family farm to the next generation of organic farmers. Each project has come with its own sense of achievement and satisfaction but I think it’s both the scientist and the wheat farmer in me that relishes the success of this conference. The opportunity to learn and share from people all over the globe is unparalleled. But perhaps one of my favorite parts of this experience is that all that information—every inspiring speaker, every presentation and discussion—is available to anyone anywhere in the world. If you want a glimpse into the future of healthy food production—and an alternative to industrial agriculture and processing—I invite you to check out the website, watch the videos and join us in the movement for healthy #wheatfortheworld.