For seven generations, the Smith family has farmed land in Addison, Michigan. Each generation has worked hard to evolve the farm to where it is today. This legacy homestead is currently stewerted by Brand & Diane Smith.
Brad was the sixth generation to grow up on the farm, during that time the farm focused on dairy production and transitioning no till row crops. Around 2012, Brad took over daily management of the farm operation, and began exploring different farming methods. He introduced cover crops and increased the crop diversity, adding radishes for aeration and adzuki beans for nitrogen. When a family friend suggested growing teff, an ancient grain originating in Ethiopia, Brad saw a new channel for revenue.
Claire, daughter of Brad & Diane, was living in western Canada when her parents pitched her the idea to move back Michigan and help them market & sell this obscure ancient grain. In the spring of 2015, without knowing how well teff would grow in Michigan, they planted 33 acres. And Claire went to work finding a cleaning and milling services, launching teff flour on Amazon in 2016.
Claire continued to experiment with teff making quick breads and cookies. One day when she added teff her favorite gluten free granola and the flavor was amazing! With encouragement from her family to pursue this teff granola, she started producing Teffola in a commercial kitchen and selling it at local grocery stores & farmers markets.
As the production of Teffola took off, Brad began to examine the expense of shipping the teff out-of-state to be cleaned. This was the closest facility that allowed teff to maintain a gluten free status. It became clear that Tenera Grains farm would need to find a way to clean & dehull the world’s smallest grain on their own. In 2020, the farm added buckwheat to its crops and the next spring both teff and buckwheat were grown, cleaned and processed on the farm in their brand new facility, which was certified gluten free.
Teffola also expanded, from Original to three additional flavors including a collaboration with Zingerman’s. In March of 2023, Claire launch Teffola Bites. This portable version of Teffola was an instant hit and sold out in a month.
The next expansion of Tenera Grains is helping other farmers to bring value add processing to their operations. While we are still learning and evolving, we want to use our years of experience to cultivate change and make an impact in the agriculture and grain landscape.