Marketing Small Grains Direct

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2021: $26,824.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Doubting Thomas Farms
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Noreen Thomas
Doubting Thomas Farms


  • Agronomic: barley, buckwheat, oats, rye, wheat, winter wheat, Blue Corn


  • Crop Production: marketing

    Proposal summary:

    Developing a regional grain alliance opens markets for farmers, giving more financial control back to local producers while offering other options beyond the dominant corn and soy system. The expanded options helps develop business plans that are more ecologically diverse and economically resilient (as grains can be sold year-round). The grantees are specifically interested in more cover crops and using less costly, more eco-friendly inputs to preserve water and soil. Grains typically travel the farmer-cleaner-middleman-buyer-packer-market route. We plan to shorten the chain and provide stability by offering direct sales while developing long-term business relationships.

    Community members will have an option to use regional grains and are able to trace the origins of their loaf of bread all the way back to the ground. Currently, there's not a centralized direct source of food-grade grains in our area. A local grain collaborative could promote healthful varieties like pumpernickel and buckwheat (part of  many New American diets). Grain and mixtures/flour could help CSAs too by creating the possibility of incorporating grains/mixes into their usual assortment of produce. CSA/owners could receive some profit and form important partnerships with grain farmers, while also benefiting from grain sales when produce availability wanes.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Increase sales of regional grains to retail/wholesale accounts.

    Develop marketing plan and public relations for grains.

    Develop packaging/labels/logos of both retail and wholesale sales.

    Create business relationships with retail/co-op outlets and emerging businesses (dog treat, granola companies).

    Provide educational outreach to other regional farmers.

    Provide opportunities for farmers to attend field days to learn more sustainable ways to grow small grains and market grains.

    Encourage farmers to take classes and gain knowledge about soil health and importance of crop-rotation.

    Provide field day/Zoom field day/special invite to be inclusive of New American farmers and beginning farmers.


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.