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Edible Arizona History | Ancient Grains

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Edible Arizona History | Ancient Grains

We turn to the experts of agriculture from the Arizona Farm Bureau, Julie Murphy, and from Sossaman Family Farms, Steve and Caroline Sossaman!

Ancient Grains that originated in the Fertile Crescent are grown and processed by Arizona farm families. Farm Bureau members, Janna Anderson and Steve Sossaman are two farm families especially familiar with growing ancient grains.

A fourth-generation farmer and owner of Sossaman Farms in Queen Creek, Arizona, Sossaman explains that central Arizona is host to prime farming conditions for some of our special grains. Sossaman and some of our other long-time farmers like to point out that it’s one of the few areas in the county where you can farm every day of the year.

Sossaman prefers to call them heritage grains, but whether heritage or ancient, these grains have a history, and often a special one. Farro, or Jesus Wheat, for example, is thought to be a 2,000-year-old grain!

Arizona’s warm climate and soil provide perfect terroir for ancient grains. Plus, the deep roots of ancient grains allow farmers to pull nutrients and long forgotten flavors from the soil!

Janna Anderson of Pinnacle Farms started with a tiny little plot behind the Scottsdale Community College in 2000. She had been to the farmer’s markets and saw that there was a large demand for growers on a small scale even before the locally-grown movement became trendy. Anderson decided to follow her heart and applied herself to filling this niche market for many years until she realized she had finally grown so much that she needed to look elsewhere to move her product and take full advantage of the ground she leased.

Anderson then ventured out into the grain market and with a leap of faith grew an heirloom variety of wheat that hadn’t been popular until recently. The last few years, she’s enjoyed fulfilling a market for ancient grains and will continue to grow heritage varieties as the market evolves.

As a first-generation farmer, Anderson keeps her eyes and ears open. “I have changed and adapted to the needs of my market base for years,” she explains. “I have always been willing to try new growing techniques and listen to how farmers of old do it too. As my farm grows, I am still a very small farm in terms of the typical farmer, but 46 acres requires a different type of technique than a farm of 5 or 5,000 acres will.”
Sossaman and Anderson have a passion for farming and are excited about the new wave of interest in ancient grains.

Written by Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Outreach Director

Outdoor Living To-Do | Discover Arizona #AncientGrains

 

Podcast

Sossaman Farms is known for producing heritage grains used in baking bread, brewing beer, and by distillers. Steve and Caroline Sossaman join Arizona Farm Bureau’s Julie Murphree to talk about the incredible history of the farm in its 103rd year plus the many types of ancient grains grown and sold thru Hayden Flour Mills. Steve also explains why they’re not just making a living but making a life!

  1. Ancient Grains originated in the Fertile Crescent. These ancient grains from the Fertile Crescent now grow and are processed by Arizona farm families. Why? Because Arizona’s climate mimics the Fertile Crescent’s climate.
  2. A fourth-generation farmer and owner of Sossaman Farms in Queen Creek, Arizona, Steve Sossaman explains that central Arizona is host to prime farming conditions for these special grains; our warm climate and soil provide the perfect terroir. Plus, the deep roots of ancient grains allow farmers to pull nutrients and long-forgotten flavors from Arizona’s unique soil! Now, around a dozen varieties grow throughout Arizona for specialty markets including, specialty foods and local brews.
  3. One example of an ancient grain grown in Arizona is Farro, or Jesus Wheat, is thought to be a 2,000-year-old grain!
  4. The Sossaman family has a passion for farming and is excited about the new wave of interest in ancient grains. The Sossamans have a special formula for knowing what the next innovation or wave in farming will be. tune-in below!

 

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Ancient grains that originated in the Fertile Crescent are grown and processed by Arizona farm families today!

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