UK Happenings

From field to flavor: UK helps celebrate local grains

Southeastern Grain Gathering
The 2024 Southeastern Grain Gathering represents a step forward in fostering relationships in the local small grain value chains, from producers to the dinner table. Photo courtesy of Martin-Gatton CAFE.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 11, 2024) — University of Kentucky, Ohio Valley Grain Exchange (OVGE) and non-profit organization Dendrifund announce the 2024 Southeastern Grain Gathering (SEGG24) May 8-9 at Fasig-Tipton.

The event — led in part by a collection of faculty and staff from the UK Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment — marks a step forward to promote connections among all participants in the local small grain value chains, from farmers to end-users.

“Post-Covid, we thought it was essential that the interest in local small grain value chains bubble up from the community with an economic stake in those value chains,” said David Van Sanford, UK Department of Plant and Soil Science professor and SEGG24 co-organizer. “All grain enthusiasts are invited to share their passion with each other.”

The gathering will connect individuals across the spectrum — from consumers to researchers, producers and chefs — with the local grain value chains, reinforcing the regional food culture and economies.

“We intend to build community around the notion that ‘Flavor Starts in your Fields’ by engaging attendees in interactive workshops, demonstrations, discussions and panels,” said Walnut Grove Farms’ Sarah Halcomb, SEGG24 chair and OVGE coordinator.

The event kicks off May 8 with an opening dinner catered by the Lexington-area award-winning Holly Hill. The evening features author Rob Dunn who will explore the evolution of flavor and its impact on humanity.

The May 9 session includes bread, beer and bourbon sensory experiences to connect the flavors of local grain fields and the Ohio Valley growing regions, including taste testing the origins of flavor in flatbreads led by Bryan Brady, UK Food Connection.

Alongside sensory experiences, there will be a focus on sharing ideas and insights to fortify the local, sustainable grain value chain — from the fields to the flavors of the finished product. These include:

  • Demonstrating the benefits of cover crops and no-till farming. Using a rain simulator provided by the National Resource Conservation Service, research farm visits will be offered at the Martin-Gatton CAFE North Farm. Discussions focusing on social, economic and environmental advantages of sustainability will also take place.
  • Developing artisanal bread makers and new crops including kernza, rye and rice will be featured in collaborative programs and research. This will be led by bourbon whiskey industry leaders.
  • Grain hub and value chain leaders from around the nation will debate the advantages and disadvantages of cultivating, harvesting, distributing, storing, cleaning, marketing and more.

"The Ohio Valley Grain Exchange is a great showcase of the collaborative spirit needed to come together across all points of the system to advance long-term outcomes for the benefit of our region,” said SEGG24 co-organizer and Dendrifund executive director Barbra Hurt.

Registration is now open. Interested parties can secure their spots by visiting:

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.