The Oliveto Grain Project unofficially started in June 2007 when a group of local farmers, millers, bakers, and distributors got together for a series of meetings to discuss the possibility of a local grain (wheat and heritage corn) economy here, in Northern California. At that point, Oliveto was more of a facilitator than a participant in these meetings, providing an opportunity and a space for interested parties to connect. It became quickly apparent that there was indeed interest, and several valuable relationships and ideas arose from those initial conversations. And for Oliveto, it was the beginning of a deeper interest.
A key moment came during a discussion with Herb Vogt, a researcher with the UC Davis Department of Plant Science. I knew from travels throughout Italy that Italian wheat made very good pasta and I was telling Herb of my intention to bring back some prized Italian soft wheat varieties in hopes of growing them out here in California. Herb said, “Why do that? They won’t be the same when they grow here.”