Sarah Brown, education director at Oregon Tilth and Ben Bowell, organic education specialist, spoke with Communal Table about marketing challenges, crop rotation strategy and needed consumer support for organic wheat farmers:
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“It can be so complex,” says Benjamin Bowell, organic education specialist with Oregon Tilth and the National Resource Conservation Service. You can’t just follow a manual—it takes full immersion and investment in a system approach. “I respect these producers who are making it work.” Bowell specifically notes that Nelson and others have the extra necessity of finding their own markets. While Nelson gets as much as fifty percent more money for his organic wheat crop, he doesn’t have the ease of bringing product to the conventional wheat co-op any day of the year. He is on the phone seeking relationships, buyers. What’s more, to make it pencil, he isn’t just selling wheat; he has to find a buyer for his alfalfa, mustard, barley, and emmer.