W.F.C. to bring wheat field to N.Y.C. next year

by Josh Sosland
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ORLANDO, FLA. — Bringing a wheat field to New York City as a major media and educational event is among Wheat Foods Council (W.F.C.) activities slated for 2008-09, said Tracie Lesser, senior brand marketing associate with Burson-Marsteller in Chicago, a public relations agency engaged by the council.

Ms. Lesser and Lynn Holly, W.F.C. communications director, offered an update of W.F.C. activities at a meeting of the Independent Bakers Association (I.B.A.) on Oct. 8 in conjunction with I.B.I.E. In making their presentation to the I.B.A., Ms. Lesser and Ms. Holly filled in for Marcia Scheideman, W.F.C. president. Ms. Scheideman was present at the meeting but was suffering from laryngitis and unable to speak.

A wheat field will be brought next September to Manhattan on pallets, and educational programming will be conducted for three days on-site "including milling, baking and eating," Ms. Lesser said. While various sites around the city had been under consideration, the council has settled on Lincoln Center on the West Side.

"We will be working with local schools to teach them about wheat and wheat foods, but the wheat field in the middle of New York City also will attract the attention of passersby," Ms. Lesser said. "And of course, New York is a major media center. The juxtaposition of the wheat field in a bustling city will be fantastic."

About one acre in size, the field will be covered by fully mature wheat except for a small portion of the field that will showcase wheat at two less mature stages.

The plan brought appreciative comments from I.B.A. members, leading one baker to quip, "With the price of wheat right now, New Yorkers will probably tear down skyscrapers and begin planting wheat themselves!"

Another W.F.C. program to be launched in 2008 will be working with the Kansas Wheat Commission on the group’s Bake and Take, a program that dates back to the early 1970s. Bake and Take encourages consumers to bake foods at home and take the foods to friends, family and neighbors. March is Bake and Take month, and it culminates late in the month with Bake and Take Day. Ms. Holly said W.F.C. will work to broaden participation in Bake and Take, encouraging groups such as Girl Scouts of America and Camp Fire Girls for programming as well as promotions in supermarkets served by MatchPoint Marketing, a retail marketing and promotion group.

The W.F.C. is marking its 35th anniversary with the creation of a commemorative cookbook. The cookbook will be a collaboration between the W.F.C. and celebrity chef Gale Gand. The cookbook, which will feature informative nutrition information, will contain 35 recipes, including five created by Ms. Gand and the balance selected from public submissions. All recipes will be grain-based.

In keeping with the 35th anniversary theme, the W.F.C. will sell the cookbooks for $3.50 apiece, Ms. Lesser said. After subtracting $1.50 per copy for shipping and handling, the group will donate the remaining $2 per copy to Spoons Across America, a nonprofit group.

Describing Spoons Across America as a "perfect charity" for W.F.C., Ms. Lesser said the group teaches children about nutrition through culinary programs.

"We work to influence the eating habits of children through hands-on education that celebrates the connection to local farmers and the important tradition of sharing meals around the family table," the group said.

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