After more than a decade of growing and processing a little-known grain, a Fallon company is seeing an expanding market and gaining some recognition.
It began with a search for a good rotational crop for the area’s principal agricultural product, alfalfa. A little-known ancient grain from Ethiopia turned out to be an ideal candidate, well-suited to northern Nevada.
Teff needs little water, and when ploughed under it enriches the soil. The alfalfa that follows it seems to thrive. And its tiny grain is nutritious, high in protein and, this is important, gluten free.
That last quality creates a ready market, but teff was virtually unknown in American agriculture. Equipment to harvest its tiny seeds, clean and process them just didn’t exist. John Getto and his partner, Dave Eckert, had to adapt what was available to their needs.
“Made it up,” says Getto, “We had to learn the whole thing from planting the seeds to harvesting the seeds to cleaning the seeds, all pretty much on our own.”
Pioneering a new product and process is lonely, difficult, even risky work, but it’s paying off. Through experimentation and adaptation they’ve built – on their own – what is likely the largest modern teff processing plant in the country.
The end product, ready for grinding, leaves here by the ton.
They’re content to leave the retailing to others, but they have launched their own brand of teff flour. It was a breakfast porridge made from that whole grain flour that emerged from a blind tasting by the Good Food Foundation with an enthusiastic thumbs up and a Good Food Award this year. Getto will pick up the award at ceremonies in San Francisco in March.
State agriculture officials are pointing to what this says about the quality and diversity of Nevada farm products.
With the hard work of invention behind them, Getto sees a bright future for Desert Oasis and teff.
“I think it is. We’ve been doing this since 2009 and the last three or four years it’s really been picking up. Our big thing now is finding more farmers to grow,” added Getto.
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