“At the Regional Economic Forecast event, we always try to focus on the actual economic development work going on in our five county region,” recalls Aslan Meade, Director of Strategic Alliances at the Thurston Economic Development Council. “The grain supply chain work and it’s connection to our local craft brewing and distilling industries, was getting to be so exciting, and tells such a compelling story, that it made for an obvious breakout session for the Expo event.”
Talking Cedar recently received 30 tons of unmalted grain from the Southwest Washington Growers Co-op Grain Pool; a soft white spring wheat they use for their distilling process, and eventually a malting barley they’ll use for single malt whiskeys. This is the part of the 130 tons of locally produced grain that Talking Cedar will buy this year. “We’re working on additional transportation and storage issues, but this just lays the groundwork for next year,” shares Bill, “and we’re hoping to contract even more acreage from local growers.”
This couldn’t come at a better time, as small farms in Thurston and the surrounding counties are faced with aging facilities and larger aggregators pulling out of the region. This new grain market is a growing relationship between Talking Cedar and local grain growers that shows a ton of potential for keeping it local.
This article is the result of partnership between Experience Olympia & Beyond and the Thurston Economic Development Council. The next Regional Economic Forecast & Innovation Expo is scheduled for December 1.