Washington State is ranked fifth among the nation’s top wheat-producing states. The majority of that grain is grown in the Palouse region of southeastern Washington, a 4,000 square mile area of unique and scenic rolling hills. Although the United States is a major wheat-producing country, discussions about how grains fit into sustainable agriculture and food system development are few and far between, and sustainability in grain production is often overlooked in comparison to fruit, vegetable, and animal production. This tour will highlight two major regional initiatives addressing sustainability in grain production.
Steve Lyon, who was a grain farmer for 13 years and spent the last 23 years as a researcher developing new wheat varieties, will join us throughout the day to provide context about the region. Steve works with the Washington State University Bread Lab Plant Breeding Program, which breeds and conducts research on thousands of new and forgotten lines of wheat, barley, buckwheat, and other small grains to identify those that perform well for farmers, and that are most suitable for craft baking, cooking, malting, brewing, and distilling.
We’ll start out the day by meeting with farmers who are part of the Shepherd’s Grain cooperative, learning about the no-till practices they employ and the economic realities for many mid- to large-scale grain farmers. You’ll get a chance to meet with several different farmers who will share their deep knowledge and histories of family farming in the region.
We’ll also learn about another major initiative in the region that is being spearheaded by Don Scheuerman, who operates Palouse Colony Farm where he raises heritage grains (also known as landrace grains) for local markets. We’ll learn about how these grains and his production practices and philosophy are unique in the region. Through his collaboration on The Grain Shed in Spokane’s South Perry neighborhood, Don is helping to develop a direct connection between grain farmers, processors, and consumers. At the end of the day, we’ll meet up with the Building a Local Foodshed tour at the Grain Shed to chew on reflections about the day and share some tasty bites.
Palouse Colony Farm, Endicott, WA
● Don Scheuerman, farmer
The Grain Shed, Spokane, WA
● Teddy Benson, brewer
● Shaun Thompson Duffy, chef, miller, and baker
● Joel Williamson, brewer; co-founder, member-owner, and maltster, LINC Foods
Steve Lyon, senior scientific assistant, Washington State University Bread Lab Plant Breeding Program, WA