For the last two years, since Blue Grouse Bread was established, the owners — a cousin duo from the New England area, Hannah and Ben Rossman — have wanted to establish a thriving grain economy locally. Now, they’re helping host a grain farming “talk” to keep the community engaged.
Blue Grouse Bread, located on Summit Street in Norwood, has been baking for surrounding communities and using local grain for all its bread production. Still, the owners are driving to Dove Creek to make their purchases. Their dream is to source all of their ingredients from the Norwood area.
Last year, Blue Grouse held a “grain school” event for the public, and then brought in Tyler Willbanks to speak. Willbanks owns the Rocky Draw Farm in Mancos, where he farms, specializing in spelt grain, using a team of Clydesdales.
Now, Willbanks will return to Norwood next week, on Dec. 12, to again speak to the community about grain farming from 5:30-7:30 p.m.
“He attended the grain school and spoke for 30 minutes at the event last fall,” Hannah Rossman said. “He has so much knowledge and is such a great speaker. We spoke then about bringing him back. He is the real deal — a hardworking farmer, returning to our original practices.”
Rossman said Willbanks has had great success in building an economically viable system in his farming practices that integrates animals. He grows grain for human consumption, but the waste product goes to his sheep.
Rossman said next week’s event will allow people to hear more from an expert who has been farming grain successfully, and the public can ask him questions.
Willbanks' talk is funded by part of the Paradox Community Trust grant that Blue Grouse Bread received earlier this year. The talk, which happens at the Oliver House (next door to the Livery) is also sponsored by the FRESH Food Hub and the Colorado State University-Extension Office.
The grain talk is free, and no registration is required. Rossman said all in the community are welcome. She especially wants to attract existing farmers in the area, anyone who’s growing grain for human or animal consumption.
“We would love those interested in growing, or those who already are growing grains in the region,” she said. “We would love current growers to come and ask questions. It’s a time to share and connect with others. Anyone can come; it’s free.”
Already, Karen and Enrie Marolf have been growing some grain for Blue Grouse Bread. Now, they’ve planted five acres of “Turkey Red,” a wheat variety. Rossman said that crop will be available in the spring — something she’s excited about. She hopes others will also become inspired.
And, as part of an Economic Development Administration grant that was awarded to the West End Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC), Rossman is a step closer to her dream of a local grain economy.
Part of the $800,000 grant that is being distributed throughout West End communities includes plans for a large community mill, a shed and a flour sifter.
“Want to have 100 percent Norwood ground and grown,” Rossmans said.