As people with a devout passion for all things local and organic, we’ve been so fortunate to find local farmers in our region growing amazing wheat for us to mill here at the farm.
For our part, rejuvenating a human-scale local grain economy has been quite successful, and you’re a big part of that success.
But with every upside there can be a downside.
We’re milling and baking more than our local farms can provide to us.
The alternative is to source wheat from Ithaca and Western NY, and although their prices are fair and they have a nice array of organic wheats available, shipping that distance does make it somewhat cost prohibitive.
Having received so much wheat from well under a 50 mile radius since we began, some even 10 minutes away, it doesn’t sit well with us to increase our food miles and carbon footprint at this stage.
Going All In for Growing Grain
So we’ve made the decision to start grain farming ourselves and plant wheat for the first time on our small farm.
This will be a multi-year project of what fancy agripreneurs call “vertical integration.”
We’ve bought landrace and heritage wheats like Emmer, Einkorn, Red Fife and Durum to plant this Summer. Some we will plant in the Fall to be over-wintered.
One new wheat variety that we’re excited about planting is from the Washington State Bread Lab which is a type being grown and tested for climate resiliency in numerous locations.
We won’t have large amounts of wheat to mill in this first season, as most of it will be saved for future seeds, but it’s one way for us to get started on a small scale, which is our modus operandi.
Using a conservative average of 40 bushels an acre (a bushel of wheat is 60lbs), that would give us a little over a ton (or 1000 KG) of wheat per acre.
Based on the amount of flour we use in a year (10K – 12K lbs), if we farmed 5-6 acres of grains we could theoretically provide all of the wheat and other grains we mill for baked goods, pastas, etc…
Adding a few more acres could provide wheat berries to other area bakers as well.
The prospects are encouraging.
Obviously there are many factors involved in a season that can skew these numbers.
This will be a big challenge to see what grows well organically on our farm and in our little micro-climate. Weather will play a major factor of course on the outcomes.
Early reports are that the North Country may experience drought conditions this Summer.
An arid Summer for wheat could be favorable in that wheat can suffer from fungus and blight when presented with long periods of wet and high humidity conditions.
So we’ll see what develops along the way and we’re glad to have you along in the journey!