PORTLAND, ME — June Russell, Director of Regional Food Programs at the Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming in New York’s Hudson Valley, is the chosen keynote speaker for the Craft Maltsters Guild’s 2022 Craft Malt Conference, slated for February 18-19 in Portland, Maine. At Glynwood, Russell adds a grains and staples component to the organization’s work in regional food and farming and continues to collaborate with longtime research partners on organic grant projects focused on small grains and naked barley.

Prior to joining Glynwood in April 2021, Russell worked for 14 years with the environmental nonprofit, GrowNYC, serving as Manager of Farm Inspections and Strategic Development for their Greenmarket, where she was known as “a force of nature” who worked hand-in-hand with growers, producers, brewers and distillers, community advocates, and advocacy organizations to build the Northeast regional grain shed from the ground up. She introduced the 15% rule, which required market bakers to incorporate at least 15% of grains grown and milled in the Northeast into their baked goods. In April of 2019 that percentage was raised to 25%. GrowNYC Greenmarket bakers now use 65,000 pounds of local flour each month.

Russell’s work with craft brewers started small but has grown over the years. “We approached craft brewers as potential end-users of small grains, prior to our first convening in 2009, but many of them did not recognize grain. When asked, they would tell us that they don’t brew with grain, they brew with malt and they were keen on products from Belgium,” she explains. So, she, along with Mark Van Glad, a Greenmarket participant, and Valley Malt, a Guild co-founder, made a 100% New York Beer in 2010 to show skeptics that it could be done. 

The next local malt-focused collaboration was in 2011 with Brooklyn Brewery under the direction of brewmaster Garrett Oliver, to create Greenmarket Wheat. Finally, in 2014 in support of the New York Farm Brewery Legislation, Russell worked with Jimmy Carbone, an NYC-based restaurateur and host of the podcast Beer Sessions, Kelly Taylor of Kelso Beer Company, and Andrea Stanley of Valley Malt, to offer brewers about 6000 lbs of local malt to brew with for Brewers Choice, a signature event of New York City Beer Week. 

“Maltsters, brewers, distillers, farmers, and other industry partners will want to register right away for our conference as June Russell, who has 15 plus years of senior-level experience in building regional grain systems, adds great value to the craft malt-specific conversations we’ll be having during the two days of the conference,” explains Guild Executive Director Jesse Bussard. “June will connect her deep knowledge of the history of regional grain economies in the U.S. to the innovative work that our members are doing, offering a holistic view of how craft malt production is an asset to the burgeoning small grains movement.”

Early bird conference tickets are $300 for Guild members and $500 for non-members through December 15th. Register here.

Russell looks forward to engaging key stakeholders at the conference. “I see craft malt as a niche but powerful market as we create a more robust regional food system. Malting facilities have a role to play in that system, first by providing a market for small grains for farmers (which are essential in organic systems), and by contributing to a regional food (and beverage) identity,” she offers.

For more information about the Craft Maltsters Guild or to obtain media credentials for their upcoming virtual conference, contact Emily Hutto at [email protected].