Rogue Valley Heritage Grain Project Background and Milestones


In search for ancient, nutrient dense grains and legumes that will thrive in the increasingly arid bio-region of lower Cascadia, Chris Hardy, the founder of the Rogue Valley Heritage Grain Project (RVHGP), was first inspired by his grandfather who grew a diverse farm in Iowa that fed his family and provided healthy food for his community. Chris went on to travel the world looking for unbroken lineages of grain/legume farmers that have maintained land-race cultivars and ancient grains for generations.

Seeking rare diverse resilient seeds adaptable to arid, inner-mountain conditions

that can be “dryland farmed”, Chris was naturally attracted to the steppes of Central Asia and Ladakh, as well as to the Caucasus and Middle East regions near the Eur-asian breadbasket of the world. Chris also spent time visiting farms in the Himalayan highlands on the Indian Subcontinent. These mountain tribes are deeply connected to the earth and have never lost their relationship with the life-sustaining grains that provide true staples of real food resiliency through historic droughts, huge temperature swings and fierce storms, that are becoming the new norm in the Rogue Valley and across the globe.

To date, the RVHG Project has grown one of the most diverse heritage grain “Living Seed Banks” in the Western USA. Since 2019, Chris, who often started with not much more than a teaspoon of seed, occasionally only a single head of grain, has been growing, observing, cataloging the growth characteristics of different varieties, as well as sourcing seeds from a global grower network, collecting and sharing them with seed growers throughout the region and beyond.

The RVHG project now has more than 100 unique varieties of heritage grains and legumes that have demonstrated favorable productivity for the Rogue Valley. Over the past few years, seeds have been shared with 20+ growers who have planted plots to help with seed increases, ranging from a small garden up to 50 acres in size. This year (2024 growing season), the project has so far commissioned 16 additional growers to help expand seed production in the region, for a total of more than 65 acres planted ahead of the 2024 harvest.

Milestones for the Rogue Valley Heritage Grain Project

- Sourced, grew and selected more than 100 pre-industrial varieties of grains and legumes (See List Here)

- Played a vital role in thtwo farmers at threshere adoption of heritage grains into Jackson and Josephine County school lunch programs

- Increased local heritage grain production in S. Oregon by more than 30,000 lbs

- Organized the 2nd Annual Heritage Grain Day that was attended by more than 100 area bakers, millers, growers and supporters

- Helped broker heritage grain deal with a prominent Rogue Valley bakery

- Recruited 15 new grower partners to participate in the heritage grain project, bringing the total now to more than 30 farms and educational gardens

- Acquired access to a belt thresher, a game-changer piece of equipment for growers across the valley. The project hopes to own it outright and offer an equipment share. $5000 has so far been secured and we are actively raising $10K more to finalize the purchase

- Advised 5 growers on transitioning more of their operation into diversified, no-till and dry-farmed crops

grower scott mcguire, IMG_7958

RVHGP Mission and Goals

How to Become a Grower