Farmer sells wheat by the bucketful
High protein content of wheat improves baking performance
By BECKY COOK
For the Capital Press
Several years ago Lynn Steadman got tired of losing money on his wheat, so he came up with a new way to sell it -- straight to the consumer for home storage.
"We got tired of taking the prices that everyone else wanted to pay us. We also wanted to improve our bottom line by diversifying and selling to the end users," Steadman said.
He said that he often ran out of work for his employees during the winter and early spring and he wanted to find another source of income so he could keep more of them employed.
His secret is distribution points scattered across the West.
He had two daughters living in Arizona at the time he began this venture and they were looking for a source of income that would allow them to stay at home with their young families. He began by taking a load of wheat to them and before too long he had several other people interested in becoming distributors.
He started with his hard red winter wheat, but after he began growing hard white winter wheat in 1996 he offered that as well.
"Eighty to 85 percent of all the people who buy my hard white wheat never go back to the hard red wheat," Steadman said.
It is raised in the high valleys of the Raft River and has a higher protein level than other wheat. Because of the higher protein it performs better when used for some types of baking. He said all of the hard wheat coming off his place is over 14 percent protein.
Initially, he started offering the wheat sewn into bags but found he couldn't guarantee the quality. There was always the possibility that rodents or bugs might get into the wheat before it was used. He began shipping the wheat in 45-pound buckets.
Home storage wheat is for customers who plan to store it for long periods of time.
Steadman's grain has a special moisture removal packet that helps protect the quality of the grain.
He now also sells soft white wheat, hard white shelled sweet corn and raw alfalfa and clover honey.
Karen Trumbull is a distributor in the Vancouver, Wash., and Portland areas. She said the people who buy Grandpa's Grain love that it is already in a sturdy, storable bucket.
"I do my best to get the highest quality wheat in the bucket," Steadman said. "If people just try it they will see the difference."