Dreams for the Gluten Free Facility
We’ve officially broken ground on the cleaning and processing facility! There used to be two silos that had to come down to make room for the new barn. Taking down silos is not a common job and is in fact pretty difficult to do. Here’s a video my dad made of the two coming down. With all the advancement of technology, the guy is still just taking a sledgehammer to the bricks, attaching a chain to it, then driving away really fast.
We wanted to build this facility for many reasons (see here) but the one I’ll go into today relates more to how we fit into the Michigan agriculture supply chain. When my dad was researching where to clean and mill teff into flour in the early days, there were very few companies he could find that not only knew what teff was but how to clean it.
There’s not a chance we’re the only family farm facing some difficult decisions about what to do. Soybean and corn prices are down (especially for conventional) and the world is moving towards a healthier lifestyle. If a small to mid-sized farm like ours is looking for new crops and markets to explore, other farms are as well.
Now that we’ve gotten some experience with cleaning teff and finding buyers, we’ve realized that not every farmer is able to spend as much time and money as we have. There’s a gap in the supply chain for our type of farm looking to enter the larger alternative grain and seed market. Most small farms can’t afford to grow a brand new crop with very little knowledge, ship it to a cleaning and processing facility, pay for the cleaning, ship it back and then find a buyer.
So the idea for our facility is to be that resource for small to midsize farms in the Midwest - if they can grow gluten free grains and seeds, we will buy them to clean and process then sell on to the buyers we’ve made connections with. It’s a big dream full of details and uncertainty but most of all there’s quite a bit of risk. A facility like this, even though it’s pretty small, and all the equipment that goes into it is not cheap. Documentation, storage, labor, utilities are not things to brush off. But we’re confident this is a very real need.
And as the trend for healthier, non GMO and gluten free products continues, we will be ready to meet that demand with locally grown grains and seeds.