This project investigates 20 promising ancient and heritage grain varieties to measure performance for farm scale organic growing conditions and will increase available seed of these 20 unique varieties to a minimum of 20 pounds each in 2020. Data will be collected on weed suppression, lodging, disease, and pest pressure as well as yield and height and environmental conditions at two sites- Ketchum, Idaho and Paonia, Colorado. This on-farm research will be supplemented by data collected through Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance’s grassroots ‘Heritage Grain Trial Program’ (HGTP) and via a new field app. The HGRP not only activates peer-to-peer discovery of regionally adapted germplasm, but also preserves a living diversity of crop genetics.
This project looks beyond the marketability of heritage grains to explore their impact on soil health, climate adaptivity, weed pressure, and insect pressure through farmer-driven, participatory research. Research data collected from 20 to 20 in 2020 will be published in the Heritage Grain Trials Handbook, freely distributed on our website, and disseminated to grain trialists and interested growers to increase and enhance the existing knowledge available about these unique varieties. Grain grown will be reinvested in the HGTP so that small farmer participants can access expanded seed lots for scaling up to marketable yields. For outreach and experiential education, Grain Trials Field Days will be held in both farm research locations, where local farmers will be engaged through a partnership with a local extension educator.