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Living Sky Grains named 'Best in Show' at Made in Montana Event

There was fantastic news for a Three Forks business at last month’s 2024 Made in Montana Trade Show for Food and Gifts in Helena.

Living Sky Grains, owned by Franck and Kari Groeneweg, was named “Best in Show Overall” at the annual event hosted by the Montana Department of Commerce.

Kari said her family was honored and surprised by the award, as the show was full of amazing vendors showcasing their products.

“We love farming in Montana, and we think Montana’s people are amazing. We enjoyed learning and interacting with the other vendors at the show. The Made in Montana brand is highly regarded. Montana is highlighted in our logo, and it was fitting to be named ‘Best in Show’ for 2024,” she said.

According to Kari, they are a farming family with roots in agriculture in many countries. Before moving to Three Forks with their four children, their family grew grains, oilseeds, and pulses in Saskatchewan for 18 years.

“We wanted to continue that journey of soil health and regenerative agriculture in Montana. The Folkvord family had been farming here for 40 years when our family purchased the farmland of Wheat Montana in 2019,” said Groeneweg. “We have had no affiliation with the Wheat Montana bakery entity except for providing some wheat as needed for milling in the first two years. As time progressed, our family started our own brand, Living Sky Grains, to focus on premium regeneratively grown crops. Our brand is currently under the process of regenerative certification and highlights a premium Montana product for health-conscious consumers.”

After attending the Trade Show, which featured 5,000 shoppers and over 100 vendors, Groeneweg found that consumers are concerned about where their food is from and how it is grown.

“They want to buy local. They want to have conversations with farmers, and they’re demanding that those premium products are on the shelves. As people stopped by our booth, we were able to engage with store and hotel managers, restaurant owners, and the public by being a voice for Montana agriculture. We were able to explain how we farm regeneratively by focusing on soil health, improving soil structure, and fostering soil biology to grow nutrient-dense food,” she said.

During conversations with vendors, Franck and Kari explained how they mill the wheat kernel quickly at a low temperature to keep the nutrients in their flour, with nothing added and nothing taken away.

“100% ultrafine whole grain flour which acts like all purpose and is naturally white because it is milled from white wheat. Flax and chickpeas were also available. Many were surprised to realize that chickpeas are well suited to our hot, dry Montana summers and produce their own nitrogen. Home cooks love chickpeas for hummus and in soups and stews, so they were excited to find them grown locally,” she said.

During the show, Franck and Kari were also able to further tell the story of Rouge de Bordeaux, a heritage wheat they grow on their farm that was originally grown in Southern France in the 1800s.

“As wheat, it naturally has gluten but has a protein profile that can be more easily digested for those with gluten sensitivities. It was rewarding to see customers return just for the Rouge and how it has changed what they can eat. Hearing their stories are extremely rewarding to our family,” she said.

Living Sky Grains currently grows 14 different crops on their farm located at 10238 US-287 in Three Forks. Kari said this includes spring and winter wheats, Rouge de Bordeaux heritage wheat, flax, chickpea garbanzo beans, sunflower, dryland corn, buckwheat, spring and winter canola, camelina, yellow peas, and mustard.

The business sells wholesale and retail across the United States through its website at http://www.livingskygrains.com.

Kari said the website focuses on ultra-finely milled whole wheat flours, wheat berries, flax seed, and chickpea garbanzo beans. Customers can purchase products online, and they will prepare the order for pick up on the farm.

Living Sky Grains is now available at Three Forks Market. According to Kari, the store now has flour, chickpeas, and flax.

Living Sky Grains products can also be found at the Belgrade Town and Country and select Bozeman Town and Country locations.

Looking towards the future, Groeneweg said they will focus on soil and plant health to store carbon and improve water quality and infiltration, which is critical on a dryland farm.

“We will continue to improve our soil biology in order to provide the best nutrient-dense foods to consumers. Hippocrates said, ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’ As farmers, we can meet that need in a culture increasingly focused on treating symptoms instead of focusing on health. Consumers are increasingly looking for healthy, nutritious foods, and we know that our farming practices are a solution for these needs. Heading forward, we’re also planning to add new products to our website, such as virgin cold-pressed canola oil, lentils, and mustards,” she said.

Along with the online products, Kari said the website features her family’s story and links to blogs about what they are doing on the farm. The business is also online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Living Sky Grains is also a member of Harvest Hosts, where those interested can sign up to get a close-up view of regenerative farming in action.

 
 
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