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Wheat Farmer Sells Direct Through CSA
Selling vegetables, fruit and even meat through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares is common. Selling grain that way is a bit more unusual.
  Brooke Lucy and her husband, Sam, provide customers with a variety of whole grains, milled flours and mixes for monthly delivery. They also sell wholesale in minimum orders of a ton or 150 cases of product.
  “We let our customers mix and match what they want from month to month,” says Brook Lucy. “In winter months more hot cereal goes out the door.”
  In addition to the whole and milled grains, the Lucy’s offer a biscuit mix, an Einka and French lentil mix, pancake and waffle mixes, and a cereal blend. They also offer local honey, fruit syrups and spreads. Customers can order from 4 different CSA options that are shipped for either 4 or 6 months. This includes the Simple Share, which is any 3 pre-packaged products between 1 and 2 lbs. each for $30 per month. The Run of the Mill Share is any 5 pre-packaged, 1 to 2-lb. products per month for $40 per month. Baker Shares each receive 4 prepackaged whole grain flour items ranging from 4 to 4 1/2-lbs. for $55 per month. Family Shares, offering 4 to 5-lb. packages of all products, not just whole grains, are a recently added option.
  “We heard from larger families who wanted more product,” says Lucy. “Families of 5 to 6 people go through a 5-lb. package in a month.”
  Lucy and her husband describe Bluebird Grain Farms as “plow-to-package.” They grow the grains on their Methow Valley farm at the east end of the Cascades in Washington State. At harvest, the grains are stored in wooden granaries that absorb extra moisture. Grains are also milled on the farm using a hammer mill to produce consistent whole grain flour. Getting to their current place has taken time.
  “Growing is relatively easy, but processing is a challenge,” says Lucy. “All the grains we grow are in the hull, their natural evolutionary state. It was easy to find a dehuller, but it was only one part of the system. We needed appropriately sized cleaning equipment as well as our mill.”
  The grains raised include Emmer Farro (an ancient ancestor of wheat) and Einca Farro (Einkorn wheat, a precursor to Emmer). They also grow Methow Hard Red spring wheat (an open pollinated wheat originating in Canada 100 years ago), Pasayten Hard White (open pollinated Washington variety, farm-bred in the 1950’s) and Tetra Pectas, an eastern Washington-bred, unique and rare variety of rye.
  “We’ve been expanding from the first few years and refining our systems,” says Lucy. “In addition to the grains we grow, we purchase wild rice and lentils from other farmers for use in blends and also some ingredients for our pancake mixes.”
  Adding the Einkorn, trademarked Einka, was a challenge. They started out with a very small amount of seed and grew it out. “It took about 10 years to build our seed stock up,” says Lucy. “We are one of a few growers who sell the grain direct.”
  She adds that sales success is largely dependent on the internet. They have had a website for about 10 years, redesigning and launching a new one a year ago.
  “It is critical to have the online interface when you are so small and rely on an educated consumer,” says Lucy. “It provides a good platform for educating people on what we are doing and a way for people to find us. Anyone can order from us, and we ship all over the U.S. and Canada.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Brooke & Sam Lucy, P.O. Box 1082, Winthrop, Wash. 98862 (ph 509 996-3526; toll free 888 232-0331; www.bluebirdgrainfarms.com).

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2016 - Volume #40, Issue #2