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‘Grain Forward’ with Palouse Heritage Grains & The History of Grain Exploration

“We are devoted to treating the ground responsibly with minimal inputs and minimum tillage.” ~ Dr.  Richard Scheuerman


Palouse Heritage

The Palouse Region - Agrarian Themes in Art and Literature 

The Palouse region of Washington State is known for its stunning photography of Steptoe Butte, Artisans at the Dahmen Barn, and Palouse Falls, to name a few notable landmarks.  Photographers come from around the world to take snapshots of the famous Red Barn, the rolling hills of rich wind-blown loessal soils cloking in greens and golds, and the barn quilts that share a deep and rich cultural history of agrarian art. Agri-sculptures are welded along fence lines, and history is steeped in heritage grains and regenerative farming. One family, in particular, has revived Old World practices, riparian restoration, and environmental preservation along part of the 167-mile-long Palouse River Watershed—home to beautiful native fish species and Palouse Heritage grains.



Palouse Heritage Farm
Palouse Heritage

Grain Exploration and The Granary

Once the Russian Senate revoked immigration status in 1871 from the Volga Germans, 100,000 immigrant farmers were forced from the land where they worked and built their family’s heritage (Scheuerman & Trafzer, 2018). Instead of wavering, they forged a plan to move to the New World. By the 1880s, these pioneers of the Northwest forged on from the central territories of the United States, seeking fertile ground in the Palouse Region of the Pacific Northwest while building a transformative economic system. Grain culture had been introduced to the region in the 1820s through The Hudson Bay Company’s joint-stock charter to develop trading systems across the continent.   Early Northwest settlers came with the seeds of historical grains, supported by the infrastructure of The Hudson Bay Company along the Seattle-Tacoma coastline, most notably Fort Vancouver and Fort Nisqually and its Granary. Grain explorers have traced The Hudson Bay Company seed trading activities to the Willamette Valley, where they found seeds fromEngland and Ukraine, like White Lammas and Turkey Red wheats. Empowering farmers to build the food system we have come to rely on today. The Hudson Bay Company is still privately held under the ownership of NRDC Equity Partners. As we progressed through this conversation, I couldn’t help but wonder if all hard red grains trace back to southeastern European descent. Were these joint-stock relationships the genesis of the grain and farming industry in the Pacific Northwest?



Palouse Heritage
Palouse Heritage Family Farming


Palouse Heritage Grain Exploration

When the Scheuerman family decided to revive Palouse Colony Farm, they set out to plant and care for the grains of their ancestors, growing only pre-hybridized seeds raised before the mid-twentieth century.  Some of these grains Dr. Richard Scheuerman and his brother Don researched - were traced back with the help of the stories of their elders and the collaboration of Dr. Stephen Jones, wheat breeder and director of the Bread Lab at Washington State University at Mount Vernon. The Bread Lab is a combination think tank and baking laboratory experimenting with improved flavors, nutrition, and functionality of heritage and heirloom wheat and other grains.



Palouse Heritage
Palouse Heritage

Today, the Scheuerman family produces four wheat products, two barley and one spelt. Each of these grains is grown during a particular season and for a specific purpose—all with different profiles, planting schedules, and traceable history. Together, they have revived ten grain varieties with the terroirs incorporated into local food systems. As of late, they are introducing the hard white heritage wheat Amber Eden-native to Mesopotamia, to the marketplace.



Palouse River
Palouse Heritage


The 30-acre farm sits adjacent to the Palouse River's banks, a Snake River tributary. In addition, they also work with other farmers in the region to accommodate growth and product development. The family uses Regenerative Farming techniques, implementing cover crops and practicing methods that best support the Palouse Region’s loessal soils and nutrient management cycles. The Scheuermans are working the landscapes and that of the Palouse River, water recharge systems, and carbon preservation as they avert soil erosion through minimum tillage and improvements in land management. Fully invested in preserving their operations: nephews Andrew & Jared Wolfe, and son and daughter Karl & Leigh Anna Scheuerman are carrying the torch to further the project of grain exploration, land stewardship, and partnering with local industries to share in “grain forward” product development.



Palouse Heritage
Palouse Heritage Family Farming

Partners in Grain

Palouse Heritage Grains has several trusted partners in the region, each with its own unique products. Their partners’ objectives are to revive heritage and ancient grain food systems.  The Grain Shed, run by Shaun Thompson Duffy and his partners, is fully immersed in artisan bread baking with grains like Turkey Red, Purple Egyptian, and Spelt. Every batch of beer is brewed with 100% locally grown malted product.  Their passion is baking and fermenting with heritage grains, using unique methods of producing bread like The Purple Egyptian, a sourdough loaf with Purple Egyptian Malt. The Dinkelbrot is made with 100% spelt, embodying sweet and rustic flavors. The Turkey Red with Seeds is a naturally leavened bread with Sesame, Sunflower, and Poppy seeds. Westland Distillery, based in Seattle, offers product development and transparency with commodity inputs. Noting every detail and specification of the origin of water, malts, and yeast strains; and meticulously capturing each data point. 



Artisan Bread


Angela Kora, founder of Ethos Cafe and Grain Mill, a grain forward miller, produces grains for bread like their Vollkornbrot, a whole grain deep rye; and Stout Foccacia. Every grain is stone-milled daily at their facility in Richland, Washington. Sierra Nevada Brewing partnered to produce their Summer 2023 Hanabi Lager; bringing the necessary aromatics and mineral strength to their blend. A Grain Explorer brought their Purple Egyptian Barley seed stock to Palouse Heritage from Africa. West Coast Brewing and Distilling in Gig Harbor, Washington, runs a 15-barrel system, pumping 1000 barrels annually, producing Ales and IPAs, and also partnering with Palouse Heritage for Egyptian Barley. 



Palouse Heritage


Heritage Grain Varieties


Palouse Heritage


Grain Exploration 

Imagine being the individual responsible for running global expeditions to understand better seed history and plant exploration. Reading through the archives and searching Google for the career description and job title of ‘Grain Explorer’ intrigued me, so I began the search to understand better this role's importance, built within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). I learned about Palemon Howard Dorsett and William Joseph Morse's Dorsett-Morse Oriental Agriculture Exploration Expedition through the USDA archives. From 1929-1932, they explored the continent of Asia, studying soybean varieties and sending samples back to the United States technology transfer stations for further research and development. This research spawned a platform that Land Grant universities and The Foreign Agriculture Service supported. Today, systems are more advanced, but Grain explorers continue to hunt for ancient grains in the most remote places, like Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.  



Palouse Heritage Family Farm
Palouse Heritage






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