Rob Moutoux at the Dupont market last December
Grain is one item that determined locavores often stumble over. Typically, it’s just not widely available, if grown at all. That’s why we were glad back in December to report that Rob Moutoux, third generation of local farmers, was at the Dupont Circle farmers market selling several varieties of grain he was growing near the family farm in Loudon County.
At the time, Rob had about 10 acres planted and was producing some 30,000 p0unds of grain he hoped to place in local stores. But now he has written customers and friends that he will no longer be offering his grain at farmers markets or in stores but only at the family farm stand near Purcellville. Consequently, he is also reducing the amount of acreage he is planting with grain and focusing more on the family’s orchard business–for which they have been famous for years–and a CSA program.
“There is certainly a business opportunity for local grains. It wasn’t so much that the market wasn’t there, though I didn’t really tap into it very extensively in 2009, going to three farmer’s markets,” Rob said in a e-mail when I asked him to explain his decision. “When we spoke, I was looking at expanding markets through selling wholesale to local food coops and health food stores, and discontinuing the farmer’s markets. I still think that’s a great idea. The reason I’m not doing it is because it’s just not a project I want to take on at this time. I’ve got my hands in a lot of different projects right now, and in order to do them right, something has to give.
“I do absolutely think that growing 30-50 acres of grains, milling them, and direct marketing them to stores is a great business model and a waiting opportunity. Just not for me,” he continued. “It would take a bit to set up the milling, volume handling, and distribution properly. I didn’t have the time to dive in and I didn’t want to half ass it. Orchards, veggies, consulting, and the home farm stand take up plenty of time for me at the moment. Who knows what will come in the future, though, and I am still growing the grains and selling them at our farm stand…
“I will say that there are several mills in PA that are on to this sort of project already, and have their organic flours in DC area stores (not sure which ones). It’s true that grains are successful on economies of scale, and so these mills that can move, clean, store, and mill more efficiently than I could are much better suited to make a go of it. These would be Small Valley Milling
, Frankferd Farms
, Annville Mill
, and maybe a few others.”
Perhaps some readers know of these brands and where they are being sold in the D.C. area and can share that information in the comment section.