(By Jamie Henneman/Chewelah Independent)
Family operation gears up for market season…
As spring gets underway, many farmers are gearing up for the farmers’ market season including Drumming Grouse Farm, a new Kettle Falls operation that offers garlic and microgreens.
Dan Wallace, an Air Force retiree, and his wife Amber said the family chose to farm near Kettle Falls due to the many benefits they found in Washington State.
“Around 2012, we began our search for where we wanted to live. We ranked seven of our favorite states based on numerous items important to us such as cost of land, population, taxes, personal freedom, and about 20 other criteria. Washington ranked very high on our list. In 2014, we came up scouting the northeast portion of the state and immediately fell in love with it. We found a home during that trip that we couldn’t pass up, so we purchased it even though we wouldn’t move in for another two years,” Wallace explained.
The decision to grow garlic and microgreens was also a calculated decision for the Wallaces that reflects their perspective on agriculture today.
“Our goal is to earn a living off our land. We are frustrated with the state of agriculture in this country and we grew tired of trying to find the truth on what exactly is healthy on that grocery store shelf. We wanted to help reverse the trend of mega farms and get back to more small farms. We believe we need to focus less on feeding the world and focus more on feeding our community,” Wallace explained. “ So, we researched different crops, livestock and crafts that may do well in the area and were economically feasible for us. We settled on garlic and microgreens. Garlic is very forgiving, easy to grow, not many pests like it, it resists disease, it ships and stores well, and it’s yummy! Plus, our climate and land is perfectly situated for growing it.”
The Wallaces planted over 12,000 cloves of garlic last summer in nine different varieties; both hardneck and softneck. So far, the garlic is roughly three inches tall and doing great, according to Wallace.
The couple hopes to sell their garlic in addition to the microgreens they offer year round through their website, www.drumminggrousefarm.com.
Microgreens are seeds planted in densely planted in soil hydroponically and are loaded with nutrients, said Wallace.
“Microgreens grow for approximately 10 to 20 days until their true leaves just start to form. Then, they are cut just above the soil and packaged. There aren’t any herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, pesticides applied because they are absolutely not needed, nor wanted. Basically, microgreens are simply everyday plants you know and love harvested when they are just babies,” he explained. “Some of the more popular varieties of microgreens are pea, sunflower, beet, broccoli, kale, radish, amaranth, mustard, but nearly any edible plant can be grown as a microgreen They are excellent additions to your favorite salad, great as a snack, are used to garnish a tasty dish, slap them on a sandwich, or even make a smoothie out of them.”
Research shows that eating microgreens can give the body a tremendous nutritional boost, Wallace noted.
“In 2012, researchers with the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) completed a study comparing microgreens to their fully grown versions. Their research determined that microgreens contain four to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts. It’s been said that one ounce of microgreen broccoli contains more nutrients than one and a half pounds of fully mature broccoli,” he shared.
To purchase microgreens or garlic from the Drumming Grouse Farm, catch them at the Northeast Washington Farmers’ Market starting Wed., May 3 or order microgreens online. Garlic is planned to be available in late spring or early summer. For more info, visit www.drumminggrousefarm.com or find them on Facebook.