Grain News

Amber Waves of Grain Exhibit at U.S. Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC Celebrates Wheat

Date Posted: June 18, 2014

A baker's dozen wheat representatives from Kansas were in Washington, D.C., last week to share their expertise with the more than 10,000 visitors to the U.S. Botanic Gardens.

"Amber Waves of Grain is our summer terrace show this year," said Ray Mims, interim press officer at the U.S. Botanic Garden.

"We are really celebrating the beauty and the diversity as well as the history and importance of wheat here in the U.S. and across the world."

The Amber Waves of Grain exhibit runs May 24 through October 13, 2014.

"One of the reasons we're doing this is we felt like it was a great opportunity to tie the U.S. Botanic Garden's historic roots, which really came from agriculture at the founding of this nation and bringing that to the forefront, in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dr. Norman Borlaug, who was honored with a statue that went into Statuary Hall this March on his birthday," said Dr. Ari Novy, acting executive director, U.S. Botanic Garden.

Dr. Norman Borlaug was known as the father of the Green Revolution.

His mission was to develop improved wheat varieties to feed the hungry people of the world.

He is often credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation.

He led the wheat research program at CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) in Mexico, where he developed semi-dwarf, high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his contributions to world peace through increasing food supply.

Borlaug spent so much time with his plants that he was actually informed of his Nobel Prize win while standing in a wheat field.

"We've got, on one side of the terrace, looking at the Green Revolution and what happened with the research that Dr. Borlaug has done," said Novy.

"And, on the other side, sort of the history from ancient wheats to what is grown today."

The Kansas delegation was brought in as part of the U.S. Botanic Garden's family festival, which was held on June 14.

Mims said, "As part of our exhibit here this summer, we have a number of programs about wheat, classes about wheat, and a number of family and children's activities.

"One thing is our family festival focusing on wheat, the history of wheat, and uses of wheat. It will include activities, baking with wheat recipes, and cooking demonstrations."

"Flat Breads Fuel the World" baking demonstrations debuted on June 13. Kansas Wheat's Cindy Falk and Home Baking Association's Sharon Davis led demonstrations on how to mix, knead, shape and bake flour tortillas.

Visitors had the opportunity to sample the tortillas, fresh from the griddle.

Other sessions which joined on June 14 included "Be a Baker," demonstrations by Kansas Wheat and Home Baking Association; "Beyond the Wheat Fields of Kansas," Kansas Association of Straw Artists display and demonstration of weaving and spinning wheat straw into works of art; and "Wheat's in That?," a value added products display including products from pet foods to postage stamp adhesive to concrete to shampoo;

At the "Kernel Kids," station, Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom representatives helped participants plant their own seeds in a bag to wear next to their skin.

They were able to watch them germinate and start to grow -- all thanks to their own body warmth.

At "A Test of Strength: The 6 Classes of Wheat," U.S. Wheat Associates showed attendees how each class of wheat is used for different products around the world; and at "Milling in Motion," North American Millers' Association gave participants the chance to thresh wheat and mill it into flour using a hand-crank flour mill.

"Throughout the summer we're going to have programs to include scientists and farmers that are going to be here in educational roles to answer questions and talk to the public and teach them about growing wheat, the science behind wheat, and the science behind the milling and baking using wheat, and the importance to everything we really do and eat in this country," said Mims.

For more information, call 785-539-0255.

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