Revitalizing Rural Communities through a Regional Grain Economy
Family farms growing ancient grains to create modern jobs and healthy, local food.
Photo by Benjamin Davies on Unsplash
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Odd's Creek Farm
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small NGO (under 50 employees)
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
United States of America
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Northeast Texas Region - includes Southeast Oklahoma, Southwest Arkansas, and Northwest Lousiana
What country is your selected Place located in?
United States of America
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
I was born and raised on a 6th generation family grain farm in Cooper, Texas. I've watched the destructive effects of the industrialized commodities market and climate change over the past two decades.
Odd's Creek Farm was founded with 65-acres and a dream to do things differently.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
Northeast Texas is a rural region with agricultural roots growing back to the Caddo Indians. In much of the area, there are more cows than people. While it may be cash poor, it has rich soil and proud people.
Satellite image showing Odd's Creek and the Northeast Texas grain region.
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
In the last two decades, we've seen the rise of herbicide-resistant weeds and the crash of commodity prices.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Growing non-GMO grains will reconnect farmers with the land - improving the soil and keeping more value on-farm.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
By focusing on growing local food for local communities, a regional grain economy can serve as the foundation for broader community revitalization.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Which comes first, the plant or the seed? The current Northeast Texas grain economy is built around the global commodities market - which has proven to be a market failure. It is now, more than ever, propped up by government subsidies, lest the whole market collapse. But the government sees no other way to proceed or is too entrenched in the current system to admit failure. We need a new economy, one that is not purely financial - an economy that intrinsically recognizes the priceless value of all life and natural resources.
While we need a robust method for exchanging goods and services in a way that works for the modern world, it should be a method that is transparent, public to all, and incorruptible. The nature of this economy should be decentralized with no single point of failure.
A regional grain economy achieves many of these goals. It is decentralized, localized by the "gravity" of food and logistics. But it is interoperable with other regional grain and food economies - we've all gotta eat! Such an economy would be rooted in growing food for people. This applies particularly to rural economies that are primarily agrarian.
Grains can serve as the base of production for rural, agrarian economies. Grains are non-perishable, able to be bulked and stored for long periods of time. When grown for people, grains readily serve as the base of our diet through everyday staples like bread, cereal, and granola. By locally buying and selling food, we localize the biome and become more resilient to outside systemic shocks (like trade wars).
But it takes a change.
Farmers are not in a position to take on additional risk - low prices, high debt, volatile weather, and the current trade war make additional risk intractable. There needs to be a market maker - someone to create the initial demand. A catalyst to begin implementing the key infrastructure.
Odd's Creek envisions a thriving Northeast Texas - our home. We were born out of these farm soils, and it is our mission to steward them into the future.
Building a regional grain economy will create artisan farming and service jobs. It will provide healthier and transparent food sources - farms that the community can touch and see. By keeping dollars local, we can begin to reverse the effects of the extractive global commodities economy. We can rejuvenate the soil and the community.
By growing non-GMO crops, we not only do we grow food as nature intended it, but we also reduce the cost of the most important ingredient: seeds. GMO corn can cost as much as $400/bag. Non-GMO varieties can be as low as $60.
We're going old world to go new world. We'll bed our rows for better drainage. We'll plant crops in rotation, completing the nitrogen cycle. We'll pair crops to balance their defense against weeds and pests. We'll sell direct - no middlemen profits extracted. We'll stone mill our grains on-demand, preserving nutrients and quality.
Know your farmer. Know your baker. Know your (soy) candlestick maker. Let's eat real food from real farms.
It starts with soil. Photo taken on a farm in Lake Creek, Texas.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?