Harold Wilken is a lifelong farmer and driving force behind Janie’s Farm and Janie’s Mill. Harold began transitioning to organic production in the early 2000s. Harold explains, “I remember the way my grandparents farmed—without the use of pesticides, and with a focus on nurturing strong soil health. I continue in their footsteps and seek to leave the soil deeper, richer, and healthier than I found it.”
Heidi Hedeker is passionate about the social impact of food. She is a pastry chef instructor at Kendall College, a Certified Master Baker, former bakery owner, and an associate professor at National Louis University. Heidi was introduced to the Ark of Taste through Slow Food. Turkey Red Wheat resonated with Heidi, as her mother’s family were wheat farmers in the Crimea from 1804-1941. The story of this wheat as being transported as a cultural artifact by immigrants to a new country, and its metaphor of survival and flourishment, has spiritual meaning.
Demetria Hill is a fifth-generation farmer in western Kansas. Bison, cattle and Turkey Red hard red winter wheat are among the things that grow on her family’s 1,000-acre farm. Turkey wheat is a landrace that almost vanished as a seed option for farmers, with her farm being one of the few sources in recent years. Her dad Bryce started raising Turkey wheat from seed they sourced from southeast Kansas in the early 90s. It is certified organic and Biodynamic. Demetria uses her journalism education and organic inspecting experience to gather stories about growing better quality food for regional grain markets.
Melina Kelson is a Certified Master Baker, Certified Executive Pastry Chef, a Certified Bread Baker, Certified Viennoiserie Baker, Certified Sous Chef, and Certified Hospitality Educator. She spent 17 years teaching baking and pastry arts in a highly regarded professional program, where she took the lead on writing artisan bread and laminated dough classes, and helped drive the curriculum along the path of continuous improvement. Her deep commitment to sustainability informs her approach to baking and living. An edible landscape surrounds her wood-fired oven, where she operates a weekly micro-bakery, Bootleg Batard, just outside of Chicago. She also teaches continuing education classes, consults for bakeries, and works on sustainable grain research and development.