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Could Wheat Farming Return To West Of The Cascades?

Brook Brouwer
Washington State University

A lot of grain used to be grown West of the Cascades -- and might be again.

When you think of Northwest wheat, you probably picture the rolling golden carpet of Eastern Washington and the vast fields of Eastern Oregon. But now, investors, policy makers and farmers are leading an effort to bring grain back to Western Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.

Washington State University's Lucas Patzek is the lead organizer of the Cascadia Grain Conference being held in Tacoma soon. He says artisan bakeries, breweries and local-food operations have told him that wheat grown West of the Cascades has its own unique flavor profile.

“Each told us that baking wheat out of Western Washington is some of the most excellent tasting that they’ve every used.”

Patzek says some of the main challenges for growing wheat and other grains West of the mountains are: linking producers and buyers and reviving the infrastructure to store, transport and market the grain.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.