Loganita Wheat: Tiny Trees

Steve McMinn’s wife has a theory: Steve is interested in wheat and other grains because the stalks are like very thin, tiny trees.  This past year, Steve collaborated with Dr. Steve Jones of WSU and The Bread Lab, on growing and harvesting a small field of wheat at Loganita Farms on Lummi Island. 

A cross between a French variety and one developed at Oregon State University, the wheat strain at Loganita was developed by Steve Jones. PRT’s Kevin Burke created the infrastructure to make the vision of wheat into a reality.  When harvest time came, Steve Jones appeared with a combine, which was loaded on to the Lummi Island ferry.  Steve Lyon and Kim Binczewski from The Bread Lab and Chef Blaine Wetzel, who will use some of the wheat in his dinners at The Willows Inn, showed up to help out.

The Bread Lab took the harvested wheat berries, and threshed and cleaned them.  Of the 350 pounds of wheat berries, some went to the Bread Lab, some will go to the Willows. Steve McMinn is stone-grinding his portion of the wheat berries with his 93 year old mother’s home flour mill.

The Loganita wheat harvest was one of many annual grain harvests around the world, but such harvests have happened only 10,000 times before. When the glaciers receded and the climate stabilized about 10,000 years ago, people were able to start farming. Foods that can be stored, notably grains, allowed for people to take a break from the constant hunting and gathering that had defined their lives. With stored food, division of labor was possible. Cities, a priestly class, a ruling class, bureaucrats, artists were all possible. Grain changed the world.

Grains, while obviously not tonewoods, nevertheless make it into PRT’s portfolio. Wheat and barley will be used as cover crops out at Utopia, where we are working to propagate figured maple in what we anticipate will be a test tonewoods forest.