Why are local grains important?
The Cascadia Grains Conference asked why local grains are important? Grains have unique flavors and characteristics, based on the region and conditions in which they’re grown. For producers and consumers of craft beer and spirits (and chefs, foodies, etc.), the expansion of local grains creates a robust palette to create and experience unique flavors, colors, and textures in food and beverages. Local grains are important to our economy and the future of craft beer and spirits. View the Why Local Grains? video.
PRODUCTION OF SMALL GRAIN CROPS – wheat, barley, oats, and rye – has been a key feature of farms in Western Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia since the fur-trade era of the mid‐1800s. Today, these crops and alternative grains (e.g. quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat) are grown in rotation with high‐value fruit, vegetable, and bulb crops, as well as on pastures and haylands. In addition to their economic value to the farmer, these crops have important agroecological functions on the farm, including reducing nutrient leaching, increasing soil organic matter, breaking disease and pest cycles, and providing on-farm feed sources.
CONSUMER DEMAND for local grains, whole grain products, and alternative and gluten-free grains has increased tremendously over the past few years. Farmers and processors have been responding with expanded and diversified plantings, differentiated products, and efforts to develop new supply-chains. Still, developing localized markets west of the Cascade Mountains is not easy as the Pacific Northwest grain economy is focused on a small set of market classes (e.g. soft white wheat) produced mainly east of the mountains for export to international and national markets. A primary challenge is the lack of critical handling and processing infrastructure, which has been moved, dismantled, or repurposed for non‐ agricultural uses. Also, the generational knowledge of growing grain has been lost in many corners of our region.
AT THE 2017 CASCADIA GRAINS CONFERENCE ON JANUARY 6-7
● Farmers learn about grain production, connect with scale‐appropriate buyers, and learn strategies on increasing demands for cereals used for artisan breads, brewing, distilling, and poultry and livestock feeds.
● Processors & end-users get an inside look into grain production, quality, and brokering relationships to get the grain you want and need.
● Investors, brokers & local government officials get the scoop on rising investment and policy opportunities.