I wanted to follow-up my last post, Pot Beans, with some more information on local beans and grains. I mentioned the Southern Willamette Valley Bean & Grain Project in that post, but thought such an exciting project deserves more than a mere mention.
I learned about the Southern Willamette Valley Bean & Grain Project through my volunteer work at Willamette Farm & Food Coalition. The project began a few years ago when a local farmer and founder of Oregon Tilth, Harry MacCormack, was shopping for beans at First Alternative Co-op in Corvallis and realized that none of the beans or grains were grown in the Willamette Valley. He planted several varieties of beans to see if they would be viable and determined they would.
Harry & his wife, Cherie, run Sunbow Farms. They sell organic beans, grains, and vegetables produced on their farm. They sell beans and grains by contract in 5lb to 100lb quantities and grow a variety of each. The bean varieties they sell include pinto, black, fava, and garbanzo bean, and grain varieties they sell include wheat, oats, rye, amaranth, and quinoa. Their 2008 crop is completely sold out, but contact them via email to let them know you are interested in placing an order for their 2009 crop.
Before the 1980′s when many of the valley’s bean and grain farmers converted to grass seed, residents of the valley sourced about 50% of their food locally. That number currently stands at less than 5%. The aim of the project is to reverse the trend by reconverting much of the grass seed land back to producing beans and grains. One grass seed farmer,American Grass Seed Producers, has already begun the transition back to growing some beans and wheat.
Through their food production arm, Stalford Seed Farm, American Grass Seed Producers also sells beans and grain. They produced red wheat, white wheat, garbanzos, and pinto beans this year and currently still have everything for sale except the red wheat. The prices for the white wheat, garbanzos, and pintos is $0.75/lb. The 2008 crop is in their last year transition from conventional to organic. The 2009 crop will be certified organic. I plan on making a run up to their farm in Tangent after the new year to pick up some garbanzos, pintos, and possibly some white wheat. Please leave a note in the comments or send me an email at ourhomeworkseugene at gmail dot com if you are interested and I will pick some up for you too.
In addition to buying direct, there are also some buying clubs that you can purchase through. Ten Rivers Food Web has a buying club in Corvallis and Krishna Khalsa organized an informal buying club in Eugene. I will post updates to buying club information in future posts – so stay tuned.
If you want to read more about this exciting project, Dan Armstrong at Mud City Press maintains a biannual report. The latest report can be viewed here. In addition, the December issue of Edible Portland features an interview with Harry MacCormack. Read the article online here or pick up a copy of Edible Portland at Laughing Planet Cafe on Blair between 7th and 8th.
Other recipes and posts on beans:
Read about other local food and food related sources here.