Spotlights Artisan Grain Collaborative
The Artisan Grain Collaborative (AGC) is a network of nearly 200 farmers, millers, maltsters, bakers, chefs, food manufacturers, brewers, distillers, researchers, and advocates working together to promote a regenerative grain shed in the Upper Midwest. As a value chain network, AGC’s purpose is to serve the stakeholders within their regional grain economy. Through their member network, they share resources, tell stories, and connect members with one another on specific aspects of regional supply chain development. In 2022, we offered AGC a grant to support in the development of a multimedia storytelling project and video series to narrate and animate the grain chain collaborations within their network of dedicated folks growing, processing, and making good stuff with grains in ways that are sensitive to environmental stewardship and community needs.
Being on the end-user side, a baker, I’m physically removed from the fields, so communicating to our customers about the immense efforts that go into processing grain, growing grain, doing grain research and all of that is so important. It’s easier to not think about that when you’re on the consumer side, just getting a loaf of bread…for customers to see every link in the chain. I think it's very helpful in educating the public about the difference between regional grain and commodity grain, and the benefits of [regional grain]…
- Capture the more difficult aspects of the development of regional grain systems, allowing space for interpersonal dialog about what makes the relationships captured along a grain chain beautiful, important, and resilient
- Create new resources for AGC members and other grain value chain stakeholders to share impactful storytelling with their own networks
- Foster new visibility, investment opportunities, eventual policy change, and a greater sense of a shared purpose
In 2019, ACG had 35 members. Today, the ACG network consists of 270 people across eight Midwest states with 175 unique businesses. Folks in the Midwest are doing incredibly compelling and innovative work with grains using these crops to connect through culture and community while preserving the environment and supporting multiple business enterprises in this ecosystem.
Artisan Grain Collaborative places priority on using strategic storytelling to connect and foster leadership to build a sturdy and agile regional grain shed. Their communications project has been successful in not only animating the grain chain, but also as an organizing, engagement, and network-building tool. Thirty AGC members engaged directly with planning and developing the project. Members stepped into new leadership roles as planning retreat attendees, core project planning team members, or as features in one of the films. In November 2022, 19 members came together in Michigan to meet together and plan the project, where they collectively made decisions about the project and engaged with the network in new ways. The final project - a multimedia storytelling project and video series set for release in September 2023 - will support AGC in continuing to build their network, as they amplify their shared story and relationships to the broader public.