Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/atash/public_html/tatermaterseeds.com/smf/Sources/Load.php(183) : runtime-created function on line 3

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/atash/public_html/tatermaterseeds.com/smf/Sources/Subs.php on line 2513

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/atash/public_html/tatermaterseeds.com/smf/Sources/Load.php(183) : runtime-created function on line 3

Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home2/atash/public_html/tatermaterseeds.com/smf/Sources/Load.php(183) : runtime-created function on line 3
Small-scale grain growers’ and processors’ guild? | New World Seeds & Tubers

Any kind of productive activity that’s a step up from hunting and gathering requires some division of labor.

It’s not just that individual people pursue different trades, it’s that fairly large groups of people pursue different steps in a complicated supply chain.

In the case of farming, one group of people growing the crops need to be able to buy tools, seeds, fertilizers, and possibly services from several people upstream in the system, and they need other people to sell their product to, who probably do some or all of the processing, possibly aggregating several crops from many different farms to supply the next product in the chain. For example, to make beer you probably need barley (or some other grains), hops, and yeast, probably coming from 3 different upstream sources. You’ll also need some tools and supplies (bottles, caps) that come from at least one seller and many different manufacturers.

American farming is generally geared towards huge scales of operation…so that when the cannery shut down in the valley where our farm is located, it bankrupted many of the farmers and effectively shut down most of the farming. It’s not like there were several buyers for the crop, but just one. American farming tends to be a “all our eggs in one basket” process.

Farming does not lend itself to long-distance collaboration. It’s not like you can deliver a ton of fertilizer over the internet, or for that matter, even by UPS.

It means that:

Isolated farms have difficulty buying fertilizer, seed, and tools locally.

They also have difficulty selling their crops.

One cog in the system shutting down can result in cogs upstream and downstream having to shut down as well. There’s not enough redundancy in the system to keep it running. Bear in mind that in the current economic crisis, cogs are going bankrupt.

Tom and I have thought for a long time that the trend towards consolidation has gone past the point of diminishing returns, and it’s time to restore some balance to the system, with more local production and more redundancy.

To make it happen, smaller operations need networks of buyers and sellers of products and services they need to complete the whole operation from start to finish.

Tom and I have discussed whether we need a small grain-growers’ guild to connect small-scale grain growers to operations that can supply them with tools and services to get a finished product to market.

As an example of one of the pieces of the puzzle that is missing, have you ever grown Spelt, Emmer, or Einkorn? They don’t free-thresh. This is both an asset and a liability; their hulls protect the sown seed which is one reason they are considered tougher crops than wheat. Problem is there’s no de-hulling equipment available on a small-scale to render the finished product usable to the retail customer.

Yes, I know, you can do it the same way the ancients did it (heat the grain to make the hulls more brittle), but that gets a bit too labor-intensive.

Then there’s the question of milling grain. There are no small-scale mills anymore in our part of the world. Now you can make good use of whole grains without milling them at all–you can even make bread without going through the flour stage. In that case, sharing information can help the process.

What do you think? Is there enough interest to create an association of small-scale grain growers? Let us know. If our inquiries get some responses, we’ll start collecting contact information for interested parties.

Share

2 Responses to “Small-scale grain growers’ and processors’ guild?”

  1. Let’s buy the Bale Grist Mill. http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=482

    It’s one of those state parks scheduled to close. Maybe we could lease it? It’s a seriously good mill. It is not run efficiently. Huge parking lot. No camping in the middle of Napa!

    I bet we could run this facility at a profit!

    Regards, Holly

    • I hope it works out because the best way I know of to preserve historical sites is to put them to use. Plus, we need production to create jobs and profits. If you’d like to post a guest editorial on this site, about the mill, feel free.

Leave a Reply

(required)

(required)


*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

© 2013 New World Seeds & Tubers Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha