Slow Tractor Farm
Ever get stuck behind a tractor and wish you could just pass it and get on with it?
Tractors move slow and sometimes it’s hard to settle in, follow their lead, and abide to the slower pace. After starting Valley Malt in 2010 we decided to start growing our own grains and so Slow Tractor was born. We were ambitious and within 2 years almost 100 acres were under our stewardship. Barley, Spelt, Black Beans, Sunflower for oil, rye and wheat were our rotational crops. Being green to farming meant many mistakes, miscalculations of yields and profits, and a whole lot of repairs and despairs. We loved farming and being connecting to our grains but after trying for 4 years we realized that Slow Tractor was not profitable and taking a toll on our young family.
As leases that we eagerly signed three years before, came up for renewal, we decided to stop and make some important decisions. Could we continue to farm and focus on the malt? When we talk about sustainability in local agriculture, do we also value our own ability to sustain throughout the years to come? Do we really need to grow our own grain or was our time better spent providing a stable market for other farms growing grains?
We had heard other neighboring farmers refer to “downsizing” as “rightsizing” and decided to keep farming but only the 20-25 acres near our malthouse. This has allowed us to focus on specialized crops like historic varieties of barley. Slow Tractor is still part of Valley Malt but it has evolved into something more sustainable for us and it will continue to evolve so stay tuned and just abide.