GRAND FORKS — Oliver Dalmi believes it’s time North Dakota wheat and the farmers who grow it get the recognition they deserve.
Dalmi, a senior at Central High School in Grand Forks, started a project called “The Bread of North Dakota” to highlight the state’s top crop. Dalmi is asking farmers across North Dakota to donate small samples – one-half pound – of wheat that will be milled and made into bread.
“My goal is to promote North Dakota, agriculture and community involvement through producing a symbolic bread: The Bread of North Dakota,” Dalmi said.
Dalmi plans to give loaves of the bread to dignitaries who visit the state and also to distribute them at community events, such as the North Dakota State Fair, where they would represent the state. He plans to donate leftover loaves to food shelves.
Dalmi conceived the idea for "The Bread of North Dakota" after visiting family this summer in Hungary. While he was there, he learned Hungary has a countrywide cake-baking contest.
“Every bakery submits a cake. I saw how much the whole country is behind this,” Dalmi said.
He believes doing something similar with wheat in North Dakota would be well-received, he said.
“I felt this is something that would thrive in our state, plus it’s good to symbolize our state and bring in our agricultural industries,” Dalmi said. “North Dakota agriculture is, basically, the biggest thing going on. Everyone is either a farmer or knows a farmer.”
Yvonne Kalka, Central High School debate coach, believes Dalmi’s skills as a speaker and his entrepreneurial spirit guarantee his project will be a success.
“He is a leader, 100 percent. He has a great mind and is a really good listener.”
The combination of those two traits, in addition to Dalmi’s public-speaking skills, will help him in the marketing of the project and bring it to fruition, Kalka said.
“His speaking skills definitely will take him to that next step,” she said.
Dalmi designed a website – www.breadofnd.com – to track the origin of the wheat he receives. Farmers who donate samples also can have their names listed on the website if they choose. Dalmi plans to provide updates on the website for farmers who want to know where the donated samples eventually go.
So far, Dalmi has asked for donations of wheat samples by word of mouth and submitted news releases to several North Dakota newspapers. He has received about 25 samples from farmers in eastern North Dakota, but hopes to get more from other areas of the state.
He’s more concerned about the number of samples than the size of each one, he said.
“The most important thing is the diversity of where I get samples from,” Dalmi said.
Individuals have volunteered to mill the wheat into flour and Dalmi hopes to find a large-scale bakery to make the bread.
Dalmi plans to finish collecting samples in the next few weeks, but said there is no hard deadline; he will wait longer if farmers let him know they wish to donate. He hopes the project will continue after this year’s collection of samples and distribution.
“I think it is very much something that has the ability to turn into a yearly event,” Dalmi said.
North Dakota farmers who want to contribute to the project can put their wheat samples in a sealed plastic bag or ask Dalmi to send them a small bag.
Samples or requests can be mailed to Dalmi at: The Bread of North Dakota, 2917 Shadow Road, Grand Forks, ND 58201.