Fritz Durst Farming
To put it simply: The farmer is the one that feeds you. We want you to know where and how your food is being grown. It just tastes better that way, doesn't it?
|About the Farm|
Fritz Durst Farming
Certified Organic by CCOF
Non-GMO Project Verified
Certifications set a minimum standard for good farming practices and food production, including land stewardship and conservation, chemical use, ecological diversity, labor practices, and food safety. We aim to go above and beyond these standards.
"We operate a diversified farming operation in Yolo and Colusa Counties. We employ 8 people year round and can add an additional 15 individuals for pruning, weeding and harvesting. My employees are the corner stone of the farm and we operate as a team, tending to crops, machinery and to each other. They are very observant of my crops and animals and often provide insight into new alternatives to my farming practices. One employee has been with me over 14 years and three others with 8 years each. I am very proud of all of them and their honesty, integrity, and productivity.I am committed to providing a safe work environment and providing living wages for my people. My farm could not operate without the team that I currently employ." - Fritz Durst/Tule Farms, Inc.
Labor is a complex issue, and we've found that Organic Certification doesn't address it very well. Grain farming is done primarily by a few skilled workers operating machines, requiring far less labor than other crops.
Blend of Red and White Hard Winter Wheat
Class (hard red, etc.) is primarily applicable to wheat. Designated by color, hardness and growing season (e.g., Hard Red Spring Wheat), there are a range of quality characteristics within classes, giving customers some indication of how to use a given flour. We like to challenge common assumptions about how to use each grain!
Patwin (Hard White) WB9229 (Hard Red)
|Seed Source||Both seeds were sourced untreated from Adam's Grain|
Seed source and supply is a complicated, and somewhat political, issue. We are actively engaged in developing a steady source of publicly available seed in farmer quantities. The source of a seed can signal the intent of breeding, as some modern breeds were developed for high yield and to withstand modern chemical fertilizers.
|Yield||Patwin: Specific yield unknown, it's a medium-high yielding variety; WB9229: 30 acres, 4848 lbs. per acre|
Yield is important before and after planting - from selecting seed for a particular field to the ultimate price of the grain. The yield of a particular variety does have to work for the farmer economically, wherein low yielding grains - primarily heirlooms - can signal a higher priced product.
As a dry good, grains maintain freshness for several years in their whole kernel form. We harvest yearly, and store in a chemical-free environment. If the grains were held for several years in a fumigated environment, you'd really want to know about it.
Patwin Field: Capay soils are very fertile, and often used for irrigated row crops, field crops, dry-farmed grain, and wildlife habitat. The silty clay loam in this area extends to a depth of more than 60 inches. Clay content ranges from 40-55%; neutral to moderately alkaline. Land Capability is 2e (irrigated) and 4e (non irrigated), meaning that soil must be well-managed to prevent erosion and runoff. Moderate water storage. Natural fertility is high.
WB9229 Field: This is beautiful soil, a rich alluvial deposit from the Sacramento River. It has been leveled to a perfect slope for irrigation and is very fertile due to natural capacities and years of good farming practices.
Land quality, categorized by the USDA, is the jumping off point - it helps farmers determine what can be grown and how best to manage the soil. Characteristics, like depth, slope, uniformity, and organic matter, impact the soil's ability to retain nutrients and water. Most of our grains are grown on Class 1 or 2 soils.
No-till wheat production: No-till and conservation tillage improve air quality by reducing tractor run time and decreasing airborne dust. Soil moisture and quality are improved by increasing organic matter and eliminating disturbance of soil microbial communities. There is potential here for greenhouse gas reduction and carbon sequestration, particularly compared to conventional tillage. Dry-farming: By not tilling the land, Fritz is able to plant in the residue of previous crops, trapping moisture and preventing runoff/evaporation. This has allowed him to adapt to rainfall and the moisture limitations of given crops. Irrigation is used only when absolutely necessary. Patwin fertilizer use: Pre-fertilized with 3 tons/acre of poultry compost WB9229 fertilizer use: All of last year's corn fodder was incorporated into the soil and we coupled that with 3 tons/acre of poultry compost
Organic matter, soil carbon accumulation and active microbial communities are primary indicators of soil quality. Regenerative soil management practices, such as conservation tillage, cover cropping, crop rotations, etc., can enhance the soil while simultaneously restoring the environment, generating resilience, and improving human health.
Well-honed crop rotations allows the plants to survive through the dry-season, trapping moisture and increasing organic matter on the land. The Patwin field the summer prior was organic vegetables. The WB9229 field the year prior was organic corn.
We're drawing attention to this particular soil management practice as an area ripe for experimentation. Here we learn how farmers may use no till or conservation tillage in combination with soil-enhancing rotations to increase biological activity and diversity.
Fritz' rice fields, among others in California Reclamation District 108, of which he is the President, are becoming prime habitat for birds on the Pacific Flyway. After harvest, farmers are re-flooding their fields and mashing the straw down into the mud with rollers so that it will decompose, a process termed rice water decomposition. This process provides bird habitat from November to February, and farmers are working with the Audubon Society to make this season start even earlier to benefit shore birds. They have also planted valley oaks and sycamores to foster birdlife. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, RD 108’s state-of-the art fish screen project benefits the Chinook salmon and other anadromous fish.Fritz says, "I would rather have a park than a parking lot. I try to encourage habitat and food for all of God’s creatures and try to live in harmony with them."
Organic Certification underscores a number of ways to increase biodiversity (or wildlife) on farms. Here we look at how farms are going beyond that standard to include avian, insect and pollinator ecology.
Patwin: Primarily rain-fed; irrigated once in the month of March. WB9229: This crop was irrigated once using flood irrigation. The irrigation helped to mitigate the dry spring and to keep the soil biology thriving.
A major goal of regenerative soil management is to help soil hold onto water longer, thereby needing less. The decision to irrigate depends on a number of factors, including land quality, rain, and wheat variety. Tall, lanky heirloom wheats, for example, do not hold up well when irrigated.
Unfumigated Farm Storage
Storage is an overlooked aspect of grain farming, where the kernels may be held for years. Methods to keep bugs and mold at bay can involve fumigation. Organic grains are stores without the use of chemicals.
Bay State Milling | www.baystatemilling.com
There is so much unseen in a flour mill. Who they are and what they stand for is immensely important.
|Type of Mill|
Our innovative mill is central to the high functionality of our flour. It’s an air-classifier mill that creates exceptionally fine, uniformly granulated 100% whole grain flour that works just as well for baked goods as it does for our pastas, and produces wonderfully creamy polentas.Nothing is sifted out in the process of milling — whole kernels enter the mill, and 100% whole grain flour comes out. The mill agitates whole grain kernels at extremely high speeds so that the grains shatter against each other and the rotating grinder surfaces, until all the particles of the grain, whether they be from the germ, bran, or endosperm, are all the same size — this is why our flour’s texture is so special.The surface texture created by our mill, called “damaged” or “activated” starch, allows it to absorb water extremely well. In the case of wheat, this high absorption of water benefits the baking properties and flavor of breads and pastries. Moreover, because the process requires very low heat, the grains’ proteins and other nutrients don’t break down in the process — they’re kept fresh and wholesome.
The milling method is the key determinant of flour's functionality, flavor, and nutrient density. The invention of the steel roller mill was a major turning point in history, enabling the mass production of refined white flour. High-speed mills can generate enough heat to destroy vital nutrients (like protein and vitamin E) and create rancidity. Air-classifier mills have more control over their drying and grinding elements.
Milling date can impact flavor and shelf-life. Our flour is, with rare exception, shelf-stable for over a year in cool, dry storage - and best refrigerated. That said, we can't deny that freshly milled flour has a wonderful, enhanced fragrance.
|Flour Extraction||100% Whole-Wheat|
Extraction describes the amount of wheat that is retained after milling. Whole Wheat Flour, for example, is described as having 100% extraction, while white flours typically have extraction rates of between 67% and 78% (predominantly the bran and germ are sifted out). The FDA doesn't require food manufacturers to disclose the exact quantity of whole grain. When we say 100% Whole Grain, we mean the whole thing.
|Protein||Patwin: 12.06% WB9229: 9.44%|
The protein content of wheat can vary from as low as 6% to as high as 20%. Protein in bread dough traps gases formed in the dough, allowing it to lighten and rise. The protein's elasticity, stability, tenacity, and plasticity are also extremely important in determining the flour’s baking characteristics.
|Moisture||Patwin: 9.01% WB9229: 9.57%|
This figure indicates the percentage of natural moisture, by weight, in relation to the overall weight of a given sample. Beyond a certain point—sometimes pegged at around 15%— content of the flour can compromise its storability.
|Ash||Patwin: not measured that year WB9229: 1.39%|
Ash is the mineral content in the wheat (primarily from the bran), so high ash content produces darker hued flour that may ferments more quickly. Small kernels have a higher proportion of bran and therefore more crude fiber than large, plump kernels.
Patwin: Click here.
WB9229: Click here.
Industry analyses are the standard tests that help determine the best and/or baking qualities of flour. Principal tests include protein, ash, moisture, farinograph, falling number, and alveogram.