Washington State Magazine

Winter 2004


Winter 2004

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In This Issue...

Features

How Cougar Gold Made the World a Better Place :: Washington may not yet have reached cheese heaven. But we're now well past the purgatory of cheese sameness. And we have the WSU Creamery, and Cougar Gold as a delicious standard, to thank for much of this progress.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: The Cheesemaking Process at WSU :: Photography by Robert Hubner.}

Our Kind of Town :: Spokane is undeniably a beautiful place to live and raise a family. Its downtown is once again vibrant. But it takes more than attitude and livability to drive an economy. That's where higher education comes in.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Story: It's Right Here: An interview with Spokane's economic development officer Tom Reese }

Ideas, Buildings, and Mirrors :: Torn between respect for its natural surroundings and a desire for cosmopolitan sophistication, Spokane lends a unique perspective to the notion that works of architecture reflect what a community thinks of itself.

{ WEB EXCLUSIVE–Gallery: Ideas, Buildings and Mirrors :: Photographs of Spokane by George Bedirian.}

Seen from the Street: Photographs of Spokane :: One lens. One photographer. A unique perspective on Spokane.

Maughan Brothers :: Following the death of her husband, H. Delight Maughan raised six children-while teaching full-time. Despite the challenge, she clearly did it right. All three of her scientist sons, Paul, David, and Lowell, have been honored with alumni achievement awards.

Panoramas

Departments

:: FROM THE PRESIDENT: Opening minds, setting lives on course

:: A SENSE OF PLACE: Plants of the Wild

:: SEASONS|SPORTS: Training Table

Tracking

Cover: Riverpark Square, downtown Spokane. Read the story. Photograph by Rajah Bose.

Panoramas
With Marci Schwartz '03 and Trish Scwartz '00 (not shown), Tessa Wicks '96, M.S. '98 (left) and proprietor Kim Roberts '81, '82 (right) run the newly opened Farmer's Daughter, which markets regionally grown food, including flour made from a hard red winter wheat developed by spring wheat breeder Kim Kidwell.

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With Marci Schwartz '03 and Trish Scwartz '00 (not shown), Tessa Wicks '96, M.S. '98 (left) and proprietor Kim Roberts '81, '82 (right) run the newly opened Farmer's Daughter, which markets regionally grown food, including flour made from a hard red winter wheat developed by spring wheat breeder Kim Kidwell. Jeff Green

The Circle of Life and the Farmer's Daughters

by | © Washington State University

Determined that, contrary to popular assumption, bread flour could indeed be grown in the Inland Northwest, a few years ago Fred Fleming '73 and Karl Kupers '71 started growing Terra, a new variety of hard red spring wheat developed by Washington State University wheat breeder Kim Kidwell. They named their business Columbia Plateau Producers and their flour Shepherd's Grain.

Visualize how a small operation under the big skies of eastern Washington moves into the full-court press of deep-pocketed global business activity. Farmers talking to millers, bakers, and consumers. Convivial conversations that put loaves of bread on the table and spread the message about soil health and people health.

Benefiting from no-till and other sustainable farming practices, Terra flourishes and is helping restore soil. Certification was bestowed by the Food Alliance, a no-nonsense national organization that peels back an operation and rewards those doing it right. The Washington Governor's Award for Pollution Prevention and Sustainable Practices from the Department of Ecology was granted this fall.

Currently there are 11 producers of Terra in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and eastern Oregon with 50,000 acres under cultivation, some using direct-seed methods. The farming methods matter-good flour is needed, but the soil also needs long and careful attention to be sustainable for future breakers of bread.

Many of these producers are WSU alumni. Their flour is trucked to the WSU campus, where, says Fleming, "It completes a circle of life." A WSU-bred variety is grown by WSU alumni to be baked in WSU kitchens and fed to WSU students who will soon become . . . etc.

However, challenges remain. Size does matter, along with cost, where larger bakers are concerned, and Columbia Plateau Producers are currently small and a bit too expensive for high-volume baking.

Dennis Fiess '64, assistant director, WSU Western Center for Risk Management Education, is a fan of these guys, but knows the dangers.

"We talk a lot about sustainable agriculture, and most of it is far from economically viable production," he says. "This effort carries sustainable agriculture into commercial production for domestic markets."

One of the tricks is to handle the grain without thinking of the word "commodity," a real paradigm-buster, but still managing to sell a lot of it. "This ends at the consumer, not at the elevator," says Fleming. Success will mean a lot of hustling in smaller markets.

One small store along Highway 2 in Airway Heights is a precious building block of the new consumer-based agriculture Shepherd's Grain considers family. The Farmer's Daughter Country Store and Bakery is on the south frontage road just off the flight paths of Fairchild Air Force Base. Customers include pilots and granolas, young and old. All express appreciation at finding such an oasis of healthy foods and ambience. A veritable class reunion of WSU alumni families work in the place-Tessa Wicks ('96 master's in agribusiness), Marci Schwartz ('03 education), Trish Schwartz ('00 agriculture) are nieces of Kim Roberts ('81, '82 architecture), proprietor.

There are huckleberries from Idaho, feed from Deer Park, apple cider from Leavenworth, carrots and other vegetables from Davenport, wine from Walla Walla, sausage from Odessa. As the daughters indicate with a flourish of the hand to the north, where the wheat fields open up, the flour and bread "comes from right over there."

New good ideas do eventually "tip" and become the norm. This autumn, chefs and bakers from regional restaurants in Portland, Seattle, and Spokane came out to Shepherd's Grains farms and rode combines to cut the wheat that would be in the bread they served to customers.

Want to encourage good soil practices and help save the family farm? Bake a delicious loaf of bread and enjoy good company.

Categories: Agriculture, Business | Tags: Sustainability, Wheat, Food

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