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Red Fife Wheat - Slow Food Presidia
 

Red Fife Wheat

Canada

The first person to sow this type of wheat in Canada was a farmer called David Fife, who had brought a few seeds with him from Scotland. The species is first documented in 1840 in the context of the region of Otonabee, now in Central Ontario. Given its resemblance to the Ukrainian variety, halychanka, this variety of wheat may be descended from the Ukrainian species. Another school of thought maintains that it is an accidental hybrid. The red fife (the name may refer to the Kingdom of Fife) is robust and resistant to disease. It is bright red when mature and has a higher yield than any other variety of wheat ever grown in Canada. What’s more, it tastes good and, milled into flour, in the form of flour, cooks very well. As a result, it is very popular with farmers, millers and bakers alike. The flat, fertile plains of the Canadian prairies have guaranteed a quality harvest over the years, despite the extremely cold climate. Government agronomists are convinced that the properties of red fife and its capacity to adapt to the extreme weather conditions mean that it is the only forerunner of cultivated varieties of wheat. And it has survived thanks to a few organic farmers scattered around the country.
The Red Fife Presidium is the first one in Canada, and was created to relaunch red fife by introducing it to artisan bakeries. It has supported the efforts of farmers who grow the wheat and has succeeded in increasing the amount of seeds to such an extent that it can now be marketed. The bread promoted by the Presidium is kneaded and shaped by hand and baked in a stone oven. Thanks to the natural fermentation of the dough, it has a yellow outer crust and smells of wheat and herbs. It has a strong, slightly acidic taste, with hints of spices, aniseed and fennel. To promote the high quality and excellent taste of artisan bread made from red fife flour, the Presidium organized an Artisan Bread Tour which visited six Canadian towns. The Presidium is working to ensure a consistent product quality and to spread the idea of growing and processing red fife throughout Canada. The Presidium has also applied to the Canadian Wheat Board for legal recognition of this wheat variety.

Production area
Central Ontario and the southern range of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba provinces
22 farmers united in the non profit Prairie Red Fife Organic Growers Co-operative Ltd and four bakers
Presidium coordinator
Mara Jernigan
tel. +1 2507434267
engeler@telus.net

 


 
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