Kernza® Harvest 2022

Here are some images from the first day of the 2022 Kernza® (Intermediate Wheatgrass) harvest in Minnesota.

Kernza® field in Minnesota during harvest.

This field was planted on September 5, 2020, so this is the second grain harvest coming off of this field.

Kernza® is a perennial, meaning it is planted once and it can be harvested multiple times. The best practice for Kernza® is to harvest it for three years before rotating to another crop.

Kernza® Harvest 2022

An Agricultural Response to Climate Change: Kernza and new markets for farmers; new food for eaters

Join me on September 20th at 5 PM at the Saint Peter food Co-Op. I’ll be giving a talk for the global climate strike on an agricultural response to climate change.

Here’s a quick summary:

Agriculture and food production is the foundation of modern society and reflects our values, our views of the self, science and technological practice. As one of the oldest and most important professions it is intimately tied to our future survival on earth in the age of climate change.  In this talk, local organic wheat farmer Ben Penner will present some possible responses to climate change through agriculture, including a discussion of a novel new crop called Kernza that represents a huge step forward in how farmers can help sequester carbon in their fields while producing feed, forage and a nutritious grain that can be used for milling, baking, brewing and many other uses. A Q & A will follow.

global climate strike-final

An Agricultural Response to Climate Change: Kernza and new markets for farmers; new food for eaters

Gratitude. It Takes a Community.

I have a poet’s sensibility around agriculture. That’s not to say that the hard numbers don’t make a difference to me, they certainly do.  What gets me out of bed is that I get to work outside in a nearly magical landscape with machines and scientific principles that I understand and yet do not fully comprehend to do meaningful work in the world. You could try to capture this fully on a spreadsheet, but you would fail to grasp what is really happening.

The mission of my farm is to inspire human flourishing through agriculture. This mission is decidedly social, even theological in scope. I believe in agriculture and the cultures that support it. So much so that I think it’s one of the best ways to live even despite the frequent hardship and uncertainty that surrounds it.

I think agriculture and the communities that support them need to keep this aspect in mind when considering policy, or even how to talk to one another about the work. It’s more than a job – it’s an investment in intangibles that in their total make up the tangible product that is food – cultural, social, communal and vital for our very existence.

Eating local is good, but alone it is insufficient to address human flourishing. Taking care of one another as stewards and shepherds of the land, and of each other is crucial to this understanding. How we go about that is another matter altogether, and will take all of us reflecting, writing, thinking and being human with each other.

Thank you for joining me on this journey, and for your support of my partner stores and bakeries.


Penner Versluis Family in Organic Turkey Red Winter Wheat
Anna, Ben, Eva, Lucia and Grace in Organic Turkey Red Winter Wheat, July 2018.




Gratitude. It Takes a Community.

Jill’s Zwiebach Recipe

Jill Shellenberg from Hillsboro, Kansas shares her recipe for Zwiebach (also spelled Zwieback), a traditional Mennonite bread. [Updated and Edited March 9: Jill made some changes to the recipe!]

Jill Shellenberg Zwiebach


1 package yeast
½ cup water
2 tbsp. sugar
1 can of evaporated milk
Add milk to evaporated milk to equal 2 ½ cups
½ cup canola oil
3 tsp. salt
Approximately 3½ to 4 cups Flour – half whole wheat – half white


In a large microwave proof measuring cup, combine the can of evaporated milk and milk to measure 2 ½ cups. Add water, oil, and sugar and heat in the microwave for two minutes. Mix in yeast and let it rise for at least a half an hour.

In a larger bowl combine the salt and a few cups of flour. Add the yeast mixture. Add flour by the cup and knead the dough until it isn’t sticky.

Let the dough rise for several hours.

Shape the dough into zwiebach and let rise for at least a half an hour.

Bake at 375ᵒ for about 15-20 minutes

Jill’s Zwiebach Recipe

Homemade Cracker Recipe from Anne’s Kitchen

3 Cups rolled oats (I use old fashioned but quick oats will make a lighter cracker)

2 cups Turkey Red Organic flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup oil
1 cup water
Mix ingredients and roll out onto 2 greased cookie sheets.  You will need to experiment with how thin or thick you like your crackers. Sprinkle with salt and press it in. Cut into squares.  Bake at 350.  Check in about 15-20 minutes and remove individual crackers
as they turn golden brown and hard.  I like to prick them with a fork to give them a cracker look but it’s not necessary.
If your dough is too wet to roll out, add 1/4 cup of flour at a time until the dough does not stick to your hands, but be careful not to knead the dough very much or you will get a tough cracker.  This looks like a simple, easy recipe but you will want to
make it couple of times to get a feel for how you like them.
Sassy Anne's Whole-Grain Crackers Ingredients
Happy Baking!  Anne
Homemade Cracker Recipe from Anne’s Kitchen

Whole-Grain Pizza Dough

Friends of the farm Dan and Jenny Kapernick made this amazing whole-grain pizza dough on Superbowl Sunday.

Kapernick Pizza Dough

Here’s the Recipe:

Pizza Dough

18 oz. whole wheat flour

11 oz. water. 1/2 oz. yeast.

2 teaspoons salt

5 tablespoons olive oil

Mix by hand, dough should be wet and sticky while kneading. Lightly flour counter top and shape dough into a ball. Let rise for at least and hour in a warm spot covered with a floured tea towel. Divide dough in three, knead a second time and form into a balls again. Allow dough to rise once more while you prep pizza ingredients and warm oven to 470. Shape dough into a 9” crust, top with whatever is local and tasty! Slide pizza into oven and reduce heat to 460, cook for 10-12 minutes.

Makes three 9” pizzas.


Whole-Grain Pizza Dough

100% Whole-Grain Wheat Bread from Anne’s Kitchen

Whole wheat bread:  made with 100% Ben Penner’s Whole Grain Wheat Flour.  Actually, I didn’t make mother in law, Joannie Schwartz made it in her bread maker.  And it is SO good! It’s a little on the heavy side, which I love, and moist and has good texture meaning it doesn’t crumble or fall apart, nor is it too dense.  I couldn’t wait to get home and have some with my Wild Grape Jelly and loads of butter!
Happy eating from Sassy (bold and lively) Anne
100% Whole-Grain Wheat Bread from Anne’s Kitchen

Anne’s Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cookies

Anne Kruse shares her Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cookies using the 1874 Turkey Red Whole Grain Wheat Flour. Try some!
Sassy Anne's Whole Grain Gingerbread Cookies
2 1/2 Cup. Turkey Red Whole Wheat flour
1/2 C. ground flax
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp grated orange rind
1/2 C butter or oil
1/4 C water
1 egg
1/4 C molasses
1/4 C honey
Combine wet then dry ingredients.  Dough may be stiff (mine was not).  Refrigerate.for 15-30 minutes or more.
Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut cookies as desired.  Bake 350 for 10-12 minutes.
These cookies are not very sweet.  If you want a sweeter cookie I would use brown sugar in place of the honey and increase to 1/2 cup.
But the frosting will sweeten up the cookies.
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
Sassy Anne's Whole-Grain Gingerbread Cookies
Anne’s Whole Wheat Gingerbread Cookies

The Good and the Bad

This morning as I drove onto my farm, I noticed that most of my 1874 Turkey Red Winter Wheat was lying flat on the ground. It was planted in the most protected area of the farm. Most storms and wind come from the West here and there’s a hedgerow to the West, but this was must have blown in a bit more from the South.

Turkey Red_Flat

Just the other day, it looked more like this.

1874 Heritage Wheat
1874 Turkey Red Winter Wheat

And a few days ago, it was blowing nicely in the breeze, like this.

As I began to assess what to do next, I thought that maybe it would be best to just process what was happening. To acknowledge that this was happening, and just to sit with it for a while.

So that’s why I’m writing this post.

My farm is built on the assumption that while agricultural knowledge through science is vast, there is still something to learn about how agricultural systems (and economic and cultural systems) as a whole work together. This is knowledge that could be called ecological, or cultural or sustainable.

And so the bedrock value of my farm is experimentation, learning and and the resulting knowledge gained from success and failure. My hunch is that in the tension between success and failure (however defined) is the beginning of knowledge, and the essential part of learning.

So, for now, I will sit with this fact, and see what I can learn from it.

UPDATE: 12 hours after this was written, the wheat stood back up (for the most part). See standing “resurrection” wheat below.


The Good and the Bad