Our heirloom grains are the ancient precursors of modern wheat and barley. They trace their origins back 8,000 to 10,000 years, when they were first domesticated by humans from wild grasses.
These grains have been part of human diets in certain cultures for millennia, but ultimately they were almost entirely replaced by modern, higher-yielding varieties and hybrids. But of course sacrifices were made to achieve higher yields and we lost nutritional density, flavor, texture, and a remarkable culinary history.
Creative small growers are doing something about it! Farmers are experimenting with local landraces and heritage varieties in the Northern Great Plains and across the country.
Combining grain with vegetable and fruit crops on diversified farms brings back some of the beauty and uniqueness to family farm landscapes. Grain for cooking and baking, animal feed, or brewing and distilling integrates well with crop rotations now in place in organic production.
Like our famous legumes, our ancient grains are grown by just a handful of certified organic family farmers on Montana’s high plains.