Transition Whatcom

Small Scale Grain & Beans: Grow, Process, & Save (Network)


Small Scale Grain & Beans: Grow, Process, & Save (Network)

Sharing methods & tools used for planting, harvesting, threshing, storing, & milling. Organic & Biodynamics. Swapping heirloom or locally-appropriate seeds & resisting introduction of GMO seeds into our Salish Sea bioregion watersheds

Location: Cascadia Bioregion - Whatcom, Skagit, Island, Bellingham & beyond
Members: 47
Latest Activity: May 7, 2020

Welcome New Members! Please listen in & enjoy reading our current discussions & comments. .For viewing all the "Discussion" click the "View All" button below.. .Remember to be placed on our private email list through Heather K or Brian. :. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ** Purpose & Vision of Whatcom Wheat & Grain/Bean Growers **

* Sharing Methods & Tools for planting, harvesting, threshing, storing, & milling..(... organics, bio-dynamics, natural farming & beyond )
* Choosing Seed Varities for purposes of human food, animal feed & soil restoration;
* Swapping our best heirloom or locally-appropriate seeds, & resisting any introduction of GMO seeds into our watersheds.
* Increasing Skills in using Hand Tools, and tools powered with sustainable energy; transitioning to become independent of oil-powered tools and oil-based fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides.
* Events posted for sharing research, methods, & tools.
* Work-Parties for harvesting, threshing & combines....
* A network group for those growing 1) Traditional Grains like wheat,
2) Gluten-Free grains like quinoa, amaranth, rice, buckwheat, maize, millet,
3) Other Grains & Seeds like oats, sorghum, barley, triticale, spelt, flax, sunflowers, and safflower, and 4) Dry Storage Legumes such as dry beans, garbanzos, soy beans, fava beans, and soup peas.
* Sharing Skills such as Horse-drawn tool Cultivators, alternative power, and hand made/blacksmith tools.
* Also focused on our unique northwest Maritime Climate & soil types

This group is facilated by Krista Rome, Heather K, and our wise farmer friends!

To view all discussion, click on the 'View All' button at end of disucssion list.

Whatcom Farmers- Consider requesting subscription to the Whatcom Farmers Google group that contains useful events from Sustainable Connection, Laura R, & others.
To suscribe call Sustainable Connections or go to website:

Events we wish to promote can be done through the main TW "Events" tab.
(And also through Shannon Maris who sends out her focused "Garden E-News". Leave your email on her personal TW page if you wish to be on the mailing list
.(Also David MacLeod writes newsletters for both Sustainable Bellingham & TW).

(When we refer to growing 'organically', we refer to as what Farmer Walter would describe as the "feed the soil" paradigm & the research of Sir Albert Howard, Robert Rodale & many others from over the last 100 years...Not the co-optation of the word by the marketing, regulatory, & globel corporation world.... Many growers style of farming go beyond organic into a deeper form of earthcare)

Discussion Forum

Spring planted fava beans

Started by Jesse Corrington. Last reply by Walter Haugen Feb 3, 2011. 4 Replies

Dry Bean and Grain Seeds

Started by Krista Rome Feb 20, 2011. 0 Replies

The nitty-gritty: growing, harvesting, and processing grains and beans

Started by Susan Kroll and Sergio Moreno. Last reply by Krista Rome Sep 21, 2010. 7 Replies

The "Other" Grains / Backyard Beans & Grains Project

Started by Krista Rome. Last reply by MelvinGott May 7, 2020. 19 Replies

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Small Scale Grain & Beans: Grow, Process, & Save (Network) to add comments!

Comment by Laura R. on October 17, 2010 at 11:46am
just remembered about the Oklahoma Food Co-operative -- probably the most successful buying club in the US. It's the one many are based on. This co-op has been able to compete through a unique low-cost, volunteer-driven model where customer orders are collected, delivered, and sorted once a month at a central location in Oklahoma City, and then distributed at a number of centers across the state. Local producers deliver the products themselves; these same trucks are then re-filled with customer orders and re-deployed for more efficient distribution. The co-op has managed to lower the cost of distribution from 73 cents on the dollar (the national average for large grocery chains) to just 18 cents on the dollar. Last year alone, they distributed over $694,000 worth of products.
Comment by Krista Rome on October 17, 2010 at 10:32am
All I can say is, it's so good to see both the interest and availability expanding. When I started my grain and bean experiments three years ago, I did a survey among all the local farmers I could find and had very few leads to anyone that knew anything about even the traditional staples such as oats and dry peas, let alone other grains and dry beans. Heck, I couldn't even find a source of flour corn that wasn't meant for cattle. So now, here I sit with about 20 excellent varieties of early maturing dry beans, several peas, garbanzos, millets, four dent corns meant for humans, some interesting experience with hulless oats, quinoa, and buckwheat....and I am surrounded by discussion by other farmers, people are starting to grow enough to sell, and the possibilities are real.

It's pretty cool. Let's keep on in this direction.
Comment by Laura J Sellens on October 15, 2010 at 6:48pm
Thanks for all the information! I have emailed the Colorado group to get more details on the buying club idea. I don't have a group of serious club buyers, so there's no need for a presentation. Yet. I looked up Nash's website (from my hometown, Sequim!) but I didn't see grains. This discussion has been very stimulating and thought provoking for me, I appreciate it.
Comment by Laura R. on October 15, 2010 at 4:45pm
PS: Growing WA is at Ballard Market every week and might could do regional pickups of other products found at the Seattle markets, too.
Comment by Laura R. on October 15, 2010 at 4:44pm
Great discussion. My response starts big and funnels down -- typical of how my brain works. :)

1) How about merging this idea of a local foods buying club with the currently brewing idea of a producer's distribution co-op for Whatcom (with deliveries to Lummi and Skagit as possible)? Under this model, the co-op consolidates the food items and makes deliveries. But, the beauty of a local foods buying club model is that some of the buyers club members can get discounts by putting in time to re-package or package items for the co-op's deliveries. I know of a local food buyers club in Colorado that works this way. They use the "bulls eye" diet, focusing on purchasing things as close to home as possible and use the concentric rings to identify items not grown nearby that they want to source. The buyer's club uses volunteer time to source, repackage and distribute items ordered. They have a central location for the consolidation and packaging, and a set volunteer time and pick up time/days for members. All orders are paid for and set up online.

Here's a quote about how it works. "Colorado Local Foods is a local buying club for the Bohn Farm Neighborhood in old town Longmont, Colorado. The Bohn Farm neighborhood includes the area (roughly) between Main Street (east) to Sunset (west) and 1st ave. (south) to 9th ave (north). We search local farmers, ranches, and local food suppliers for foods grown and produced in our community. Our members receive local free range eggs, grass fed beef, free range poultry, honey, hard cracked and hand ground wheat flour, and as much Colorado-produced food as we can find. If you are interested in learning more about our buyers club or becoming a member, contact"

2) Setting up a special local buying club through Terra Organica would likely work well-- they have already set up a buyer's club so they are ready for that discussion, they have a lot of the sources or know where to go for what you would be seeking, they already buy from a lot of local producers of different product. Basically, it would be a great way to link to existing resources while not having to re-invent the wheel -- usually the best way to go! Plus, a group of Transition people working with them might also be able to offer some connections to local producers for the store. After your local food buyers club gets up and running, it might turn more into the project described by the Colorado group, or it might just be that way from the start with the help of Terra.

3) An alternate idea that would take more work, but would also be viable: Most of the Local Food Exchange produce comes from Growing Washington, which is a conglomeration of 4-5 Whatcom producers (Alm Hill and Nooksack Nine are two). Nooksack Nine and Alm hill are the source of the dried and shelling beans, and have recently started growing grains with the help of the Food Co-op's Farm Fund. What they don't grow themselves, Growing Washington buys from other producers mostly in NW WA, but some comes from NE too: grains, beans, milk, honey, eggs, bees wax candles, a diversity of fruits. What about starting out a local food buyer's co-op through them? The issue would be negotiating the club's discount prices, the packaging time, and the pickup coordination with them. While not all that different from buying local food from Terra, the Local Food Exchange has a lot of potential and I know they want to expand, but need some community engagement.

IF idea #1 is interesting to you, please let me know and I will keep you in the loop about the producers' coop formation as it evolves this winter and spring.
Comment by Celt M. Schira on October 15, 2010 at 3:58pm
Laura, some local places to start: there's a guy in Lynden who grows soft white wheat for Fairhaven Mill. There's your biscuits. There's dent corn a plenty in Whatcom County, mostly conventional corn for cows, but you might talk to the organic dairies and ask if someone around here grows a no-spray dent. The Farm Stand on Railroad Avenue sells three kinds of locally grown dry beans. You could ask Ann where they come from. Nash's Organics has grains by the sack. Call and talk to Kia. It is possible to meet her at the Ballard Market and collect bulk grain orders. Naturally raised oats are hard to find around here. We are getting Canadian organic rolled oats in the bulk bins. Krista has been running a bean project for years, demonstrating that the significant hurdle for low-tech dry bean production is social organization.
Comment by Laura J Sellens on October 15, 2010 at 12:40pm
Thanks, Heather, good ideas!
Comment by Laura J Sellens on October 15, 2010 at 12:39pm
Thanks, Walter and Krista, for your input. I see, the only reduction in fuel consumption with local-but-mechanized harvesting/threshing would be from transportation--food miles. I know what a buying club is when dealing with Terra Organica, and I wonder how this type of buying club might be the same or different. Hypothetically, what size of group would I need and/or what kind of investment amount would be reasonable for this type of project--ballpark? What do you mean by infrastructure? What hurdles need to be overcome in order for consumer purchase of locally grown staples to be less daunting? Do your customers seem to like the halfsies program? Do you? Thanks! Laura
Comment by Krista Rome on October 15, 2010 at 9:30am
Hi All,
I finally made it back on here and was pleased to see that Walter posted a good analysis on the Grain/Bean CSA issue. I have been thinking long and hard, looking for an angle to continue growing these staples in a way that will benefit the community as a whole while staying true to my desire to farm with a minimal use of fossil fuels. The majority of my maintenance, harvest, and processing is by hand (or foot).

Walter is correct in his calculations. I earlier calculated that I would need $6/lb for beans to pay myself minimum wage. Add any sort of infrastructure whatsoever, and account for normal losses due to weather and other farming realities, and Walter's price is much more realistic. Pretty daunting for getting the crops into the hands of the consumer.

And so I continue to focus on education, seed-sharing, and helping others get started with growing for themselves and their own families. I tried Walter's "halvsies" strategy with pole beans this year and it worked great. I am still finishing up the processing with some of the crops, so all of my other "work-traders" have not yet received anything but thanks for their efforts. It's this kind of patience and trust that is so valuable and needed in these new crop adventures.

And so, we carry on!
Comment by Heather K on October 3, 2010 at 3:24pm
Walter, good encouragement in your words for folks ready to make the commitment to being nourished by local foods:
“Start your own buying club and contract with farmers to grow grain for you. You will have to pay them up front so they have capital (capital acquisition is the real reason for the CSA model). However, by paying them up front you will likely be able to request the kinds of grain or other staples you want. You will also be sharing the risk too, but that is also part of the CSA model. The time to think about 2011 grain, beans, and other staples is now. That way you can source your capital and your producers well before planting season.”

Laura! Welcome to our networking group for growers of grains,dried beans & seeds! (And thanks for your volunteering to be part of the new TW Twog visionaries & volunteers.)
There are a lot of informative discussions posted here that share our collective wisdom & experience.
We have had events & talk in the past and as time allows will have more.
If you have a connection with a grower in this group and want more hands-on time on the land, you would be welcome to contact them about helping out.
Sometimes Krista Rome with the Backyard Grain & Bean Project can use a hand, so you could leave her a comment on her personal page and ask to be put on her volunteer email list. Also you could request Brian K at Inspiration Farm to add you to his educational email list. (leave message on their personal TW pages). (Walter has a website & possibly an email list).
The growing & harvesting season in our temperate climate is brief and a busy time for growers from 'can't see' to 'can't see' time of day.
Also welcome to new members Kate & John.
Looking forward to working together nourishing the land and caring for the soil life.

Members (45)


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