Cascadia Grains Conference offers field trips and workshops


The mission of the Cascade Grains Conference is to provide a platform for the local grain movement to thrive in the Cascadian Region. This year’s conference includes hands-on field trips Friday, January 19th and a full day of workshops January 20th.  More info below, or visit the website at

Registration is now open for the 2018 Cascadia Grains Conference aimed at rebuilding a regional grain economy west of the Cascade Mountains in Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.

The Cascadia Grains Conference will be held Friday, January 19th at various locations
around Thurston County for the Hands-on Friday Field Trips and Saturday, January
20th at the South Puget Sound Community College, 2011 Mottman Rd SW, Olympia,
WA 98512. Registration and more information about the full day conference events and programs are available at Early Bird pre-conference
registration is $95, Regular Registration is $115 and $125 for those registering at the
door. Scholarships are available.

“This conference will bring together farmers, processors and end users as well as
investors, brokers and local government officials to discuss all aspects of rebuilding the region’s grain economy,” said Laura Lewis, WSU Food Systems director and chair of the Cascadia Grains Conference. “The program will focus on regional grains used for three value-added enterprises – brewing and distilling, animal feed, as well as baking and other food uses.”

Lewis noted that grains have been grown in western Washington and Oregon since the fur-trade era of the mid-1800s. “Today, plantings of wheat, barley, oats, rye and triticale are commonly rotated with high-value fruit, vegetable and bulb crops in the region,” she added. “Grains play an important role in reducing nutrient loss, providing organic matter to the soil as well as breaking disease and pest cycles.”

With a Steering Committee of over 25 farmers, government officials, and value added processors, the Conference is joining a nationwide movement that asks “What does a local grain economy look like?”

Working closely with organizers from Oregon and Northern California, this conference is the Northwest’s platform for the regional conversation. Despite a strong and growing demand for local grains, Lewis said, developing outside markets isn’t easy for growers in coastal Cascadia.

“In part, this is due to critical handling and processing infrastructure having been moved, dismantled or repurposed for non-agricultural uses,” she said.

At the conference farmers learn about grain production, connect with scale-appropriate buyers, and learn strategies on increasing demands for cereals used for poultry and livestock feeds, artisan breads, brewing, and distilling. Processors and other end-users get an inside look into grain production, quality, and brokering relationships to utilize and market products using local grain. Investors, brokers and local government officials get the scoop on rising investment and policy opportunities for the region’s grain economy.

The conference will feature 18 workshops, a Resource Expo, three meals, and entry to the Best of the Cascades Tasting Tour, featuring beers and spirits from around the
region. Workshops cover a series of topics such as growing regional grains, grains for
beer and spirits, grains for animals, adding value (bringing grain products to the
market), and telling the unique story of Cascadia grains.

Cascadia Grains Conference 2018 is presented by WSU Food Systems, Fremont
Brewing, Old Stove Brewing, and Shepherd’s Grain along with many other supporting
organizations and agencies. For more information contact Aba Kiser, Conference
Coordinator at 360-531-0312 or [email protected]