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Methow Valley family farm supplies flour to stay-at-home bakers

Award-winning Bluebird Grain Farms finds new fans amid the coronavirus pandemic as more people are staying home and baking.

WINTHROP, Wash. — Spring season in Winthrop looks a lot like it always has according to Bluebird Grain Farms owner Brooke Lucy, who's grown organic wheat and grains with her husband Sam here since 2004.

“Life on the farm is kind of the same really. Except we're just not being very social," said Lucy.

But for this family farm, it's been a wild year: Their Einka – an ancient grain -- was honored with a Good Food Award in January and a NEXTY Award in March.

Before they could bask in that glory, COVID-19 shut everything down, except for the demand for flour. 

Suddenly this small farm had a very hot commodity.

"I had no idea, honestly I had no idea until it really sunk in on week 4 when it was not stopping and I had to turn our online store off,” said Lucy.

The restaurant and wholesale orders this farm relies on plummeted but everyone stuck at home started baking.

“I feel like our business absolutely got turned upside down. We've had to pivot really quickly and figure things out. Instead of two-thousand-pound pallets it's six-pound packages heading out the door via UPS and the U.S. Postal Service,” said Lucy.

This fresh flour is milled to order, so sometimes it sells out. The best way to ensure a steady supply is to subscribe to a monthly delivery via a Community Supported Agriculture share.

“A CSA is a great way to secure 4 months of flour delivered to your door."

As this 'plow to package' farm keeps up with a new kind of demand, the owner says she's found one good thing about this pandemic, and it's not that she's selling more flour. 

“I just feel like this is such an amazing opportunity for our local and regional food systems to really dig in and look at our access to food," said Lucy. "It's really creating a resilient food system, and I feel like the Pacific Northwest is well on its way and would like this opportunity to keep growing. Keep growing that resilience."

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