Santa Cruz warmed up for the Ecological Farmer and Ranchers Alliance summit. I shared a ride with Reed Hamilton of Grass Valley Grains and David Kaisel of Capay Mills. We had five hours of traffic to talk through the difficulties of growing heritage grains: equipment, seed, and a gluten-fearing public. We talked about agricultural subsidies for big growers, the capital resources of midsize farms, and the rural-urban divide. All before 10 AM.
But that’s why we were meeting. We want to help small farms thrive, to keep heirloom grains alive, to farm in ecologically beneficial ways. We were met with farmers, ranchers, and farm advocacy organizations who want to help do those things.
I found common ground with the organic seed producers group. They, too, want to increase biodiversity, maintain heirloom varieties, and support small farms. They use much of the same equipment for seed cleaning as grain farmers do for producing consumable wheat berries. After all, grains are seeds.
So as we get deeper into equipment sharing conversations, we grain farmers will look to collaborate with row crop farmers to share resources to preserve seed for all of us.