This month we are excited to feature our friend Joel Huesby at Huesby Farms, a local farm near Walla Walla, WA that supplies Fairhaven Mill with a variety of grains!
Huesby Farms is a certified organic 400-acre farm owned and operated by Joel and his son Will Huesby. His family first established a homestead in 1908 and currently his grandchildren are now the sixth generation to grow up there. Joel has used organic farming practices since 1995 and became certified organic in 2004. Joel was an early adopter of organic farming and was the first in his family to become an organic farmer.
Joel has been farming full-time since he graduated college in 1986 but began farming at an earlier age. At the ripe age of 16 Joel began farming for his uncle when his family inherited 23-acres where he grew soft white winter wheat and alfalfa. He rented the equipment from his uncle and made a deal with his parents to pay them 1/3 of the profit from his field. With this profit, he was also able to purchase his own pick-up truck in cash.
Joel is very passionate about organic farming because he’s all about avoiding the chemicals that harm soil health, the environment, and people. The soil is becoming more acidic near the foothills and the wheat growing areas of eastern Washington. This huge sleeping giant that most people don't know about is making it harder to grow wheat in this area. The concern is that we’re poisoning the beds that we sleep on with these fertilizers, so instead Joel plants legumes in his fields to help with neutralizing his soil.
Joel takes a unique approach to farming, by starting with the soil. Soil health is paramount. He states that, "The soil is a living thing that supplies the plant. My job is not to feed the plant, my job is to feed the soil and the soil needs organic matter."
This year, Joel will be growing winter peas, winter barley, yellow corn, hard red wheat, sorghum, oats, and dried peas! His favorite crop to grow is barley because it takes him back to his high school days at 16 when he farmed with his uncle. This year, we are excited to continue our partnership with Joel, learn about his life as an organic farmer, and share with you! He will supply Fairhaven Mill with winter barley, yellow corn, hard red wheat, and oats.