Steadfast Farm Press
Written by Administrator
Saturday, 07 July 2007 09:54



Issue #23.45 :: 11/08/2011 - 11/14/2011

Local waves of grain
A guide to grains

There are only a handful of local grain growers in the area and when I met with Brian Walden, owner of Steadfast Farm in Red Hill, I learned why. “We don’t have the flat expanses of land they have out west, and Virginia’s hot and humid climate is treacherous for growing grains,” said Walden, who uses a hard red winter wheat developed especially for the East Coast to withstand humidity and resist disease.

Brian Walden, with wife Mihr and son Sylas, inspects his first barley. It’s just starting to sprout.

So why, with a 500-acre cattle farm, a half-built house, and a 2-and-a-half-year-old son among his list of responsibilities, did he add growing grains and legumes to the list last year? “I noticed that there’s no one supplying the largest and most important part of the food pyramid, and what is provided is lacking nutritionally,” he said.

There’s a huge demand among bakers and brewers for local grains, but Steadfast Farm is taking it slowly, selling the 10 tons of wheat harvested annually directly to shoppers at the City Market (and to Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie, where it’s used in whole wheat pizza crusts).

Walden also grows black beans, oats, and barley, but doesn’t sell them yet. “Trying to juggle each crop and its individual problems is time-consuming,” he said. And for growers like Walden, who re-germinate their seeds every year, the process is especially painstaking because you can’t harvest early and the crop must remain physically secure and disease-free in order to produce again.

Grass-fed beef is still Steadfast Farm’s primary business, and they are in the process of getting its organic certification. Farming is a labor of love that Walden wants to pass along to his son: “I believe we have a responsibility to cultivate our land just as homeowners do their lawns.”—Megan Headley





Issue # 2010 Food Guide

Grain From Local Ground
A Farmer Profile