The direct-to-consumer phenomenon is catching on in the Pacific Northwest. Aside from Shepherd’s Grain, other area farmers, including Joseph’s Grainery in nearby Colfax, Wash., are milling and packaging a variety of wheat, lentil and garbanzo bean products. They are slowly but surely earning shelf space in local grocery stores.
"We’ve really enjoyed getting to meet the people who are eating our grains and legumes," says Kelli Collins, marketer for Joseph’s Grainery. "We used to harvest the crop, deliver the grains to the river for transport and then they would disappear into a black hole. Now we get to see the faces of the folks who enjoy our products. There’s a great amount of pride and reward in that."
Furthermore, emerging tech start-ups such as FarmAppetit make it easier than ever for farmers to digitally sell their wares with the help of mobile apps. Read Smith hasn’t delved into the world of mobile marketing, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the question.
"You’re never done," he says. "You continue to bring in new ideas and new technology. There’s no fix to farming—it’s a continuous process."