Cascadia Grains Conference: An Opportunity for Collaboration and Innovation

Since becoming a part of the brewing, distilling, and baking industries, we have been overwhelmed by the support and guidance we have received from our fellow grain growers and maltsters. There is a sense of community in this field that far surpasses that of traditional grain production. We are all connected. 

These industries are comprised of uniquely brilliant, kind, and forward-thinking people who lift each other up to seek success in their businesses. We come together to share ideas and support our endeavors. 

My dad, James, recently had the opportunity to travel to Olympia, Washington to attend the annual Cascadia Grains Conference. A two day event that encompasses all things grains. From the people that grow it to the people that consume it, there was representation from every facet of the grain industry. Dad expressed his appreciation for the diverse learning opportunities and found the seminars to be especially beneficial. He spoke on the Malting: The New Flavor Frontier panel along side representatives from Palouse Pint, Skagit Valley Malting, and a small grain producer from the Skagit Valley.

The Malting: The New Flavor Frontier panelists at the 2018 Cascadia Grains Conference 

My father has the unique ability to make friends with nearly everyone he meets. He could strike up a conversation with anyone who is willing to chat about everything from farming to beer making to art and music. There is no doubt in my mind that he made an impression on those who attended the conference and will continue to make a lasting impact on this industry. 

Dad was able to network with people from across the industry and enjoyed every minute of it. Eastern Washington is home to a small, tight-knit group of farmers that share the same goals of expanding their business and entering new markets. All of whom we call friends and colleagues. However, we all are similar in size and practice. The Cascadia Grains Conference allowed Dad to meet producers of all sizes that use completely different methods of production than we do. He was surrounded by people sharing different perspectives and together they grew a community of innovative thinkers. They discussed topics around sustainability, added value cropping systems, and seeking out domestic markets for locally grown grains. 

Something that my dad shared with me that I found interesting was the concept of terroir. I'd never heard this french word prior to sitting down with Dad to debrief about the conference. Terroir is the set of environmental factors that affect a crop's phenotype (physical characteristics). While terroir is usually used when discussing wine grapes, the concept is now being considered in grain production. Of course crops are affected by environmental factors, but what if it could alter the way something tastes. Considering terroir in grain production could introduce an even larger variety of flavor profiles, opening up endless possibilities to make our beers, spirits, and baked goods even more complex and interesting.

He explained it this way: a crop that gets everything it needs to grow effectively will taste vastly different than a crop that was put under some kind of stress. This could mean it doesn't receive enough moisture, it gets to warm/cold, or it's grown in a soil that isn't perfectly suited for that crop. This means that the grain we grow in Lind, Washington could be entirely different than the grain that is grown in Montana, the Palouse and Skagit Valley. It brings a uniqueness to every product, to every crop that wasn't there before. 

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Each time we get the opportunity to participate in events like this, I am reminded that there is still so much to learn; so much room to grow. I believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to locally grown, sustainably produced grain products. There is a large community of people in our state and across the country that see the potential in these pursuits. We are excited to have stepped into that community and become a part of the conversations that happen at conferences like this one. 

Cheers, 

Maya Jane, President & CEO

I’m honored to have been a part of the Cascadia Grains Conference and priviledge to have been featured on a panel. I can’t wait to go back next year.
— James Wahl

Summer is Back and so is the Blog

It's been some time since I have made an update on MJW Grain Inc and what we have been up to this spring! During our blog hiatus, Dad was hard at work getting our spring rye planted, making more connections with breweries across the state, and delivering grain!

I'll first talk a little about rye and why we have decided to grow it as well as our winter triticale. Rye is a traditional grain that has been grown for hundreds of years. Used for baking, brewing, and distilling, it is extremely versatile and full of flavor. Dark, hearty breads, whiskeys and bourbons can all contain rye. Our family plans to be a source of this traditional grain to locals who are looking to revive it. 

 Rye that was malted at Palouse Pint in Spokane, WA. 

Rye that was malted at Palouse Pint in Spokane, WA. 

Customers expressed an interest so we decided to deliver. Now, we have approximately 400 acres of spring rye planted around our farm house. It looks beautiful! In our area, rye is known to be a weed, a nuisance, and good way to get some exercise. Many a summer has been spent picking rye out of wheat fields by hand. We are excited to see how well our rye does this year and to reestablish it as a valuable crop and not a plant that needs to be removed from our fields. 

 Rye stand; photo taken 6/9/17

Rye stand; photo taken 6/9/17

In the last several months, Dad has been busy hauling malt and raw grain all over the state to new customers. We are excited to announce that the following companies are official customers of MJW Grain Inc! 

Elysian Brewing - Seattle, Washington

Selkirk Abbey Brewing Company - Post Falls, Idaho 

Mick Duff's Brewing Company - Sandpoint, Idaho

Big Time Brewery - Seattle, Washington 

Terminal Gravity Brewing - Enterprise, Oregon

Ten Pin Brewing - Moses Lake, Washington 

Little Spokane Brewing Company - Spokane, Washington 

Ice Harbor Brewing Company - Tri-Cities, Washington 

Bellwether Brewing Company - Spokane, Washington 

This idea, the idea that we could make a market for ourselves and build a business around family ideals and our livelihood, is becoming a reality. We have big dreams for MJW Grain Inc and we couldn't be more grateful for the progress we have made so far.  We now offer raw triticale grain, triticale malt, raw rye grain and rye malt. We hope to continue expanding our influence and to accommodate our customers as best we can as we move forward into harvest 2017! 

To keep up with MJW Grain Inc this summer, tune into our Facebook and Instagram for updates and things we think you should now about grain production in the Pacific Northwest! Summer is a beautiful season and it's an exciting one for farmers like us. 

As always - cheers,

Maya Jane, President & CEO 

 

Home is Where the Heart Is

Life as a college student can be amazing, challenging, and rewarding.I am studying agriculture education at Washington State University and every day seems like there's something new life has to throw at me. I like to stay busy and am involved in a few clubs on campus along with classes and work. I rarely have the chance to spend weekends at home on the farm, but when I do, I love having an opportunity to see my family and of course, checking out the triticale. 

Our family is pretty tight-knit. This time of the year, every Sunday you'll find my dad cooking the best burgers in Ritzville at the community gun club, my mom handing out the most delicious cupcakes she baked to the club members, and my younger brother, Dane, shooting 23/25 birds on his 16 yard pretty consistently. While these Sundays are a little untraditional and maybe even a little hectic, it's the way we spend our Sunday's for a couple of months every spring.  It's been a tradition for our family for as long as I can remember. I'm lucky enough to go to a college that isn't so far that I can't stop by here and there, always greeted with big smiles and many hugs from the people that watched me grow up. 

 This is one of our fields just north of Lind, WA. Jumping for joy because spring is near and the trit looks good!

This is one of our fields just north of Lind, WA. Jumping for joy because spring is near and the trit looks good!

This last weekend I was able to come home for a few days. It's something I always look forward to. Besides getting to spend time my with my family and celebrate my brother's 19th birthday, I also had the chance take a walk through some of our fields. The snow had finally melted and we could see our triticale for the first time since November My favorite part of spring is seeing the small, green plants peeking through the snow after a long winter. 

 This picture was taken on March 4, 2017. The triticale is gearing up take off this spring. By harvest time in July, it will have grown almost four feet tall. 

This picture was taken on March 4, 2017. The triticale is gearing up take off this spring. By harvest time in July, it will have grown almost four feet tall. 

I always cherish my time at home. Each time I head down the lane, clean laundry and groceries in hand, I can't help but look in my rearview mirror. This place is what built me and made me the person I am today. I grew up driving the tractor and working harvests on this ground, I learned how to play sports and judge crops in this community, and I will always be supported by the incredible people that live here. 

We all have our roots; mine just happen to be surrounded by wheat fields and homesteads. 

Until next time - cheers!

Maya Jane, President & CEO 

Adams County Supports Small Businesses

Ritzville is a quaint town located at the junction of I-90 and I-395 in eastern Washington. For those who are not from the surrounding areas, most associate the city with the Starbucks and McDonalds that stand next to the freeway and not as the Adams County seat, the home to 1,600+ people, or a community that finds great value in small businesses. 
 

 

On February 21, my dad and I had the opportunity to attend the Adams County Legislative Reception focused on economic development in our small communities. Our dear friend, Adams County Economic Development Director and fellow Ritzville resident, Stephen McFadden, organized this annual event in where local businesses would have the chance to connect with our legislators. We very much enjoyed networking with our fellow small business owners and local representatives. 

I have been lucky enough to travel to Olympia on a few occasions in my 21 years. Each time I leave the beautiful legislative building at the center of the capitol, I feel encouraged and thankful to live in the State of Washington. This reception was no exception. I had the chance to speak to our group during the dinner, and as I was sharing my family's story and our hopes for MJW, I was looking into the faces of agriculturalists, entrepreneurs, senators, representatives, and my very proud father. 

The other business owners that came to the reception are our friends; they have seen me grow up in our small, sweet town of Ritzville. While I was by far the youngest person in attendance, I received nothing but praise and support. It was the first time since we started this company that I felt genuinely confident in my abilities to be a part of this industry. I am more than just a college student, and this event helped solidify that reality. I am an active role of a company that seeks to support small businesses and sheds light on the incredible agricultural industry. 

I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend such an event and look forward to what is to come for not only MJW Grain Inc but also every one of the businesses that were represented at the reception that night. I would encourage our readers to reach out and buy local. Support your neighbors and speak to your representatives, because when we work together, great change can occur. 

Until next time - cheers!

Maya Jane, President, and CEO 

Changing Seasons and Changing Times

In eastern Washington, we experience all four seasons in full effect. Ranging from 100° F in the summers to below freezing temperatures in the winter time. This particular winter has been especially eventful; we have seen almost two feet of snow, and the end doesn't seem to be anywhere in sight. 

Am I writing about the weather? Of course, I am! For dryland farms like ours, the weather is one of the most important factors that play into whether we have a crop to harvest each summer. Today there are endless varieties of plants that are specially bred to endure different climates. In Ritzville, we receive little moisture and often have early frosts or heat waves that threaten our grain. 

The positive side to raising a crop like triticale is that it possesses characteristics that make it more tolerant to our changing seasons. It requires small amounts of rain and can handle just about anything that Mother Nature throws at it. 

While winter is still in full swing, my family is glad to see the bright white blanket of snow laying over our small triticale plants. It protects the crop and ensures that once winter does finally subside, there will be a green carpet of triticale waiting to take off as spring approaches. 

 The top photo was taken on November 8, 2016. The bottom was taken February 10, 2017 by my dad, James. These are the same field, just different seasons. 

The top photo was taken on November 8, 2016. The bottom was taken February 10, 2017 by my dad, James. These are the same field, just different seasons. 

So, next time you wish for the weather to change, keep a farmer in mind. That farmer may need the rain on a gray, dreary day or the snow that just doesn't seem to melt. You never know what they might be growing that you'll be eating or drinking later on. 

Until next time - cheers!

Maya Jane, President and CEO

We've Got Beer!

Exciting news from MJW Grain Inc! 

When my family started this company we weren't sure where we would go with it. We had no idea if we'd ever gain any customers or whether triticale would make good malt. In the last few months, we have been more than blessed with the response that we've received from our malts and ideas for new products in the future. 

We are very excited to announce that Bellwether Brewing Co. out of Spokane, WA has finished the first beer with our 5th Gen Malt in it. It's called Fibber McGee's and is an experimental Northwest IPA. Personally, I have yet to try the beer. However, we've heard some great feedback on the new IPA from friends and fans from the area! 

Check out their website at http://www.bellwetherbrewing.net/ and like them on Facebook: Bellwether Brewing Co.

Next time you're in Spokane stop by one of the locations that serve their beers and try it out. We'd love to hear what you think!

Until next time - cheers!

Maya Jane, President and CEO

More Blogs to Come

Thanks for checking out MJW Grain Inc!

We are a family company that aims to serve the needs of brewers, distillers, and bakers across the US by providing the highest quality triticale grain and malted triticale right to you. We are excited to connect with producers and consumer alike and are more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Don't hesitate to reach out to myself or my father, James Wahl, to ask!

I will post updates about the farm, our business and our lives in general. I hope to share stories about the humble beginnings of our family company and where we go from here. I aim to let our readers see into the lives of American farmers, brewers, and distillers. 

This industry that I am so passionate about is vast and full of equally as passionate individuals searching for new, innovative ways to produce, market, and deliver food to the world. My family is just a small part of this ever-changing industry, but we seek to make a significant impact by finding more sustainable farming practices through less use of pesticides and reducing our carbon footprint. 

Stay tuned for more blog posts and photos demonstrating what exactly we do here at MJW Grain Inc!

Until next time - cheers!

Maya Jane, President and CEO