Interview: Alex Weiser of Tehachapi Grain Project
Mel Melcon for the Los Angeles Times
Grain has always been a symbolic emblem of America’s vast plains, the land of plenty, the rolling hills dappled with sunlight that can’t hold a candle to the golden grass it bathes. “Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,” the song goes — and one typically thinks of the midwest, home to our treasured grain belt that feeds the entire country. Alex Weiser, an organic farmer of Weiser Family Farms and co-founder of Tehachapi Grain Project, is working to change that standard by establishing a sustainable grain belt in Southern California to feed its local community with flavorful heritage grains — grains that always grew there, we just forgot.
On May 26, Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles and Confluence LA will celebrate Tehachapi Grain Project with a dinner that honors the full flavor and scope of heritage grains. We spoke with Alex about the history of grains in Southern California, how he moved to growing heirloom grains to harvest on his farm, and beer, one of the great offsprings of grain.
Hi Alex, the dinner menu for the Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project Dinner sounds incredible. Did you work closely with the chefs to bring it together?
Yeah, oh boy, we go way back. Ella and Elaina are both dear friends of mine from I don’t know how many years back. I’ve seen Ella’s growth as a chef, and I knew Elaina back when she was managing the Library Alehouse in Santa Monica. Ella has been to the farm several times. She’s a great person, and loves what she does. We’re good friends. And Elaina’s reached out to help the farm, supporting us. Wonderful.