Local Farms Grow Wheat, Beans

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EUGENE, Ore. — The rumble is almost nonstop inside Camas Country Mill.

They stone mill flour from local wheat.

“That’s what makes us so unique. We grow it just outside of Junction City, which is three miles from here. It gets shipped to the seed-cleaning warehouse in Junction City, which is about five miles from here. Then it’s trucked here and milled right here,” said miller Steve Jones.

That might not sound unique. After all, you’ve probably seen fields of wheat growing throughout the summer.

“The majority…was being trucked up to Portland, loaded on barges and sent to Asia,” Jones said.

“It’s crazy when you can drive by these fields, but there’s no place in town to buy what’s in the field,” said Lynne Fessenden, Willamette Farm & Food Coalition Director.

That changed when the mill started up more than a year ago.

“There hasn’t been one here since the 1920s, I believe,” Jones said.

The old mantra “if you build it, they will come” worked at the Camas Country Mill. Once the machine started running, so did customers.

“Business is good. It’s been steadily increasing since we started,” Jones said. “I know last month, we did a little more than 90,000 pounds. That was just a little more than average.”

It’s still a pretty small operation. Even smaller is Lonesome Whistle Farm.

“We grind all our own flour and polenta,” said farmer Kasey White.

The main focus there is beans.

“We have about 10 different heirloom beans,” White said.

This farm offloads some of its products at the Lane County Farmer’s Market.

“We sell some garlic, then we grow five different grains,” White said.

They also offer CSA boxes.

“We have to charge a little bit more for our stuff than they do at the grocery store, but it’s supporting a sustainable farm and it’s high-quality food,” White said.

It’s also a staple crop.

“By staple crops, we mean whole grains, dried beans and legumes and freshly milled flours and cornmeals,” Fessenden said.

This weekend you’ll be able to find all that, along with storage crops, at the third-annual Fill Your Pantry event.

“It’s like the Farmer’s Market on steroids,” Fessenden said.

Local farms and producers will be there offering everything from beans to winter squash to flour.

“You don’t have to go home with 50 pounds, but we’re really trying to encourage people to think about what it means to buy something in bulk, store it and use it over the next year or six months,” Fessenden said.

That’s because the money you spend on products grown here stays here and keeps the mill rumbling.

The event is Sunday between noon and 4 p.m. It’s being held at the Sprout Marketplace, the new home of the Springfield Farmer’s Market.

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