The Heritage Grain Trials Project

The nonprofit Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance is preserving heirloom grains that are ideally suited to Rocky Mountain growing conditions.

heritage grains

This heritage grain was grown by the Cowgills, who own Prairie Heritage Farm in Power, Montana.

Photo by nanna meyer.

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While modern agriculture has moved away from regionally developed crop cultivars — also known as “landraces” — a grass-roots organization based in the American West is bringing local seeds back to the Rockies.

The Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance works to strengthen access to local seeds among farmers in Colorado and surrounding states. This nonprofit organization encourages planet-friendly seed stewardship through education and networking.

The Heritage Grain Trials Project, which began in 2016, is an important public component of the Alliance’s work. To carry out the project, the Alliance first identified and collected heirloom grains that are ideally suited to Rocky Mountain growing conditions. Then, local growers were sent seeds to grow out. Every member of the project has also received detailed instructions in seed saving. Farmers, gardeners, and anyone else who wants to get involved are more than welcome to participate.

Beyond active production of heirloom grains, the project is dedicated to building a network of educators, distributors, seed storage facilities, and seed stewards to develop a resilient Rocky Mountain agriculture from the ground up — because planting seeds where they originally evolved often produces the hardiest, best-tasting crops. The project’s goal is to create a community that works together to preserve and promote the growth of plants ideal for the Rockies ecosystem.

For more information about the Heritage Grain Trials Project, or to participate by becoming a grower yourself, check out the Alliance’s website.