One October afternoon, we set the places for a feast. Enamel plates punctuated a long table, under borrowed festoon lights strung from the rafters. Wind whistled off of the Irish sea. At first glance, it may have appeared a standard farm to fork meal, a wholesome sharing of local produce and company. But this feast was different.
Before tucking in there was a pause. Longer than usual. A current of excitement coursed through the strawbale barn. This was the first time we would eat Ceirch Du (black oats) in our collective living memory.
Telling the story of this feast involves tracing back through every step that inched these oats to our table. The journey, far longer and more divergent than we expected, involved many people with an assortment of skills, all collaborating to unearth a lost Welsh grain. This detective work uncovered a mystery we never even knew was waiting for us.
Katie Hastings, Wales Coordinator for The Gaia Foundation’s Seed Sovereignty Programme, recounts all that led up to the day when seed savers, farmers, engineers and allies broke black oat bread together, marking the end of an odyssey…
Click to go on an oat quest:
Our search for the holy grain in the news:
“These are the seeds that will feed us through climate change.” – Gerald Miles in The Guardian
The next step in this journey is yet to be plotted. But right now we have huge cause for celebration. We have connected the dots across the entire food chain from seed to plate. We have the seeds, the farmers, the human scale machines and the recipes to bring Ceirch Du back into our fields and our hearts. Diolch yn fawr iwan. (Thank you very much)
Photographs and film by Jason Taylor