The Importance of Ancient Grains and Wheat Featuring Brooke Lucy, Bluebird Grain Farms
How do nutritious, ancient grains and wheat positively impact the environment?
For quite some time, people have been unaware of ancient grains’ and wheats’ importance. In 2005, Brooke Lucy and her husband, Sam Lucy, started their vertically integrated farm business to raise awareness, grow, process, and sell organic ancient grains and heritage wheat varieties. Now, she’s here to share the challenges and lessons they’ve learned while growing and selling heirloom grains.
In this episode of the Gooder Podcast, host Diana Fryc sits down with Brooke Lucy, the Co-owner and Founder of Bluebird Grain Farms, to discuss her entrepreneurial journey in growing, processing, and selling organic ancient grains and wheat. Brooke explains the fundamental shift in people’s demand for ancient grains and wheat, product development and the farming practices they use to grow their grains, challenges they’ve faced, and her advice to new farmers and entrepreneurs.
In this episode we learn:
- Brooke Lucy talks about Bluebird Grain Farms and why it exists
- The fundamental shift in people’s demand for ancient grains and wheat
- Brooke explains how her role as a wilderness ranger impacts her leadership style
- What are Brooke’s principles for product development?
- Brooke explains the farming practices they use to grow their grains
- Why entrepreneurs lose sight of their end goal
- The people that influenced Brooke and her husband’s grain-growing process
- Brooke shares the challenges they’ve faced and her proudest moments
- Brooke’s advice to new farmers and entrepreneurs
- What’s next for Bluebird Grain Farms?
- Women leaders that Brooke would like to elevate
About Brooke Lucy
Brooke Lucy is the Co-owner and Founder of Bluebird Grain Farms, a vertically integrated farm business that produces, processes, and sells ancient and heritage wheat and grains. Brooke is a visionary, educator, people person, and networker. She believes that people deserve access to pure, clean food, and she believes that producers have an obligation and social responsibility to the planet and humankind to grow and deliver sustainable food with minimal water use and a low carbon footprint. Brooke is honored to be an entrepreneurial environmentalist where she can work with the land and integrate her infinite wisdom while driving good food to the people.
Guests Social Media Links:
LinkedIn Brooke Lucy: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brooke-lucy-b4ba6947
- Bluebird Grain Farms
- Bluebird Grain Farms on Instagram | Facebook
- Brooke Lucy on LinkedIn
- Girl Meets Dirt
- Brené Brown
- Secretary Deb Haaland
- Diana Fryc on LinkedIn
- Retail Voodoo
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo.
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Their proven process guides hundreds of mission-driven consumer brands to attract a broad and passionate fan base, crush their categories through growth and innovation, and magnify their social and environmental impact.
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Welcome to the Gooder Podcast where we talk with powerhouse women in CPG about their journeys to success. This episode is sponsored by Retail Voodoo. A brand development firm guiding mission-driven consumer brands to attract new and passionate consumer base crushed their categories through growth and innovation and magnify their social and environmental impact. If your brand is in need of brand positioning, package design or marketing activation, we are here to help. You can find more information at www.retail-voodoo.com.
Diana Fryc 0:43
Hi, Diana Fryc here I am the host of the Gooder Podcast where I get to talk with the powerhouse women in the food, beverage and wellness categories about their journeys to success and their insights on the industry. This episode is brought to you by Retail Voodoo. Retail Voodoo is a brand development firm. Our clients include Starbucks, Kind, REI, PepsiCo, Highkey and many other market leaders. We provide strategic brand and design services for brands in the food, wellness and beverage industries. If your goal is to crush your competition by driving growth and disrupting the marketplace with new and innovative ideas, give us a call and let’s talk. You can find out more at retail-voodoo.com. Well, today I get to introduce Brooke Lucy who is co-owner and operator Bluebird Grain Farms alongside her husband, Sam Lucy. If I call you Lucy on accident, please forgive me, my daughter’s name is Lucy. Working hard at it. Okay, today we get to welcome Brooke Lucy, who is co-owner and operator of Bluebird Grain Farms alongside her husband Sam Lucy. They are a vertically integrated organic regenerative grain farm that produces processes and sells ancient and heritage wheat and grains. Now Brooke is a visionary, educator, people person and networker. She believes that people deserve access to pure clean food and we food producers have an obligation and social responsibility to the planet and humankind to grow and deliver sustainable food with minimal water use and a low carbon footprint. Brooke is honored to work as an entrepreneurial environmentalist that allows her to work with the land and integrate her infinite wisdom while driving good food to the people. Well, welcome, Brooke. How are you today?
Brooke Lucy 2:48
Hi Diana, thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here.
Diana Fryc 2:51
Yay. And you are located where remind me.
Brooke Lucy 2:57
We are in North Central Washington. Winthrop, specifically just right over the North Cascades from Bellingham.
Diana Fryc 3:07
Okay, so you’re pretty far up there then.
Brooke Lucy 3:10
We are pro flies about 30 miles south of the Canadian border.
Diana Fryc 3:11
Wow. Okay. Well, as you know, because we’ve already talked about this, but I am super excited to talk to you because first of all, your brand from Washington State so yay. Secondly, you guys have a special place in my heart because I first discovered Bluebird farm years ago when my family was on vacation and Lake Chelan and for those of you not from Washington State, lake Chelan is kind of like the destination, one of the destinations in Washington state. So there’s the wet side of Washington and the dry side of Washington where most of the farming is done. And Lake Chelan is on the dry side and when you go, you’re going to love it and I could talk about it forever but I digress because we are here to talk to Miss Brooke.
Brooke Lucy 4:08
You’re just going into summer, thinking of those summer dreams.
Diana Fryc 4:13
Summer dreams on that amazing lake. Yes. And I’ve not been to Winthrop, which I have also heard is pretty magical of a destination itself.
Brooke Lucy 4:24
It is. it’s really beautiful. We’re right up against the North Cascades National Park. There’s a reason they made that National Park because it’s extraordinarily beautiful. And come into our valley and you can just see the mountains that you feel like you’re right in the Alpine wilderness.
Diana Fryc 4:53
Love it. Well, as always, I like to start off with the brand. Okay, so maybe you can tell us a little bit about Bluebird Grain Farms and what it stands for.
Brooke Lucy 5:06
Yeah, so Bluebird Grain Farms, like you mentioned earlier is a vertically integrated organic grain farm. And we specialize primarily in ancient wheats, specifically Emmer and einkorn. We started about 18 years ago, because we could not find any locally sourced wheat in Washington State, and being the sixth largest producer of wheat, then it was kind of confounding to me why we couldn’t buy local wheat when we’re sending hundreds of metric tons out of the port of Portland and Seattle, but we could not buy local wheat. So that’s what started us. And that’s what inspired us. And the ancient grain aspect of our business is just allows us to have a niche because nobody at the time was growing us ancient wheats. And then on top of all that, we feel organic is always been our passion. Food needs to be clean and pure. And that’s how we do things.
Diana Fryc 6:27
I love that. Now, my last purchase was wheat berry by the way, and I bought that nice five-pound bag, I have it at home. When I think of ancient grains, and I think of wheat, and I think of the last few years, I’m curious, what have you seen changing with the American consumer by way of the products that you grow and you produce? Like, have you seen a fundamental shift? I mean, obviously, people went nuts with flour, the beginning of the pandemic, but I’m also curious, have you seen a fundamental shift in people’s demand for grains and wheats and that sort of thing, as people have started doubling down on their health?
Brooke Lucy 7:18
Yeah. When we started in 2005, I really did not know what the market was, I was totally green, no pun intended. But our company has consistently grown every year for the last 18 years. When we started, almost nobody knew what Emmer or einkorn was probably the most common, the grain that people were the most familiar with, at the time, where it was probably spelt, which is also considered an ancient wheat. But that just the concept of ancient wheat wasn’t really in the food vocabulary. So really the first 10 to 12 years of our business, I felt more like an educator than I did as a business person. It was all education and a ton of talking to people. We spent a lot of time at the farmers markets in Seattle, which was really how we launched our business, talking to people talking to chefs, Seattle, the farmer’s markets, were really starting to get some traction in Seattle in early 2000s. So it was a great time to be there. There were absolutely no grains offered in Seattle at the time, as far as at the market. So it was a great little niche for us. And I mean, you got to love Seattle foodies, they’re the most educated, smart, they know what they want. And it was such a great place for me to start because it really made me have to know what the heck I was talking about, first of all, because I had some vicious customers. But yeah, so a lot of educating the first couple of years about Emmer and einkorn. And I will say now that we’re heading into our 18th year, generally, people are more informative about what ancient grains are. I think the whole gluten situation, gluten intolerance, celiac disease, that has exploded since we started our business. That has also prompted a lot of education to our customers, we feel the ton of calls about the differences between ancient wheats and modern wheats, a lot of confusion around GMO wheats, which are not officially on the market in the US. In fact, it is still illegal to grow GMO wheat. So there’s just a lot of education. But I will say our customer base is continually growing, and there is more and more demand, particularly for these ancient wheats.
Diana Fryc 10:39
That’s great. Now, you say, education. So I’m going to dip back into your history here a little bit. When I did a little bit of my research on you, first of all, wilderness Ranger, first and foremost, I feel like I’m in the presence of somebody amazing, because that is such a special job. At least in the world, I used to be a backpacker. And so I have a lot of respect for people that do that work. And from wilderness Ranger, which is kind of an educational role, even went into education. So I’m curious, outside of the role of education, marketing’s role is a lot of education. How does those roles impact the way maybe you lead in this industry or the way you do what you do?
Brooke Lucy 11:34
Well, that experience of being a wilderness Ranger was incredibly formative for me because having the opportunity to be in the wilderness for such a long periods of time alone, when I was in my early 20s. And I think the longest time I was out, there was like, 18 days, by myself. I established a incredible awareness and appreciation for our natural world, that I think really shaped my perception of what is true and good in the world, which is having wild places and having access to clean wild places. And so the environment, in general, is just a, it’s incredibly important to me, and the way I run my business and the way we think about food, we have to always be thinking about the environment that we’re growing the food in, and then the people who are consuming the food we grow. Providing the most nutritious, the cleanest food available, is so important. So yeah, that time as arranger was very influential, and who I am today. And I do have a profound commitment to our natural world.
Diana Fryc 13:36
Yeah, I can imagine that’s probably what influences you and your farming practices, period, end of story.
Brooke Lucy 13:51
It’s important. It’s important. The earth provides a lot. It sustained us in many ways and having access to clean air, clean water and clean food creates a healthy society. It creates healthy people and healthy communities, healthy children. And I had the privilege of having access to that as a young person and I feel passionate about maintaining that for a future. That was an ice cube.
Diana Fryc 14:33
Oh my goodness. Okay. Well, let’s talk a little bit about product development kind of moving from the education and the planet, on the earth and natural resources. One of your responsibilities in your profile is that you are responsible for product development. What does that mean in your world? And how does it show up?
Brooke Lucy 14:53
Yeah, well, because we are both producers and for processors, I have to kind of think about it and think of product development in multifaceted dimensions. Because we have to think about the production side of it, like, is it something that we can grow? How do we grow it? Can we harvest it? Do we have the acreage for it? All of those production. And then there’s the processing side of things, can we process it? What’s the cost around the processing? What’s the shelf stability, like, there’s so many layers to a product. And I don’t think about a product unless we can produce the product. So that is kind of a difference. Like, if we don’t grow it, I’m not going to develop the product. So that’s kind of a fundamental principle is that we have to be able to grow the product. Of course, everything that we grow is a grain, and is very shelf stable. And what our entire processing line is set up for us is wheats, primarily wheat. So everything, all of my products are under that category. Now, the beautiful thing about grains in general, is that there are so many uses for grains. They are incredibly versatile. So you think about whole grains, you can think about crack grains, think about flour. I mean, there’s so many things, you can ferment grains, you can brew grains, you can malt grains, I mean, there’s a myriad of possibilities with this one product. But of course, the product development pieces, what is within reason, what’s going to give us a certain profit margin that makes sense? And really, what’s sustainable? What’s the reward for us? So yeah, a lot of pieces to the puzzle.
Diana Fryc 17:13
When you’re considering new products, new grains. Now, I know that you’ve been predominantly, if my memory is correct, predominantly working with farmers in Washington State, I think that has changed in the last few years. By going outside of states and working in different areas, do you find that you now have access to producing different products now? I mean, Washington State, especially Eastern Washington and the Skagit Valley? For those of you that don’t know, farmlands, a lot of people think the Midwest is where so much of this happens. But Washington State happens to be an incredibly high producer of grains and wheat and all sorts of things. We have a really amazing climate variance in a short area. In any case, I’m curious as you’ve expanded and gone into other marketplaces has that increase your opportunity to try new products?
Brooke Lucy 18:19
It will Diana right now, I mean, most of what I’ve found is we started with Emmer, einkorn, dark Northern, right, which was a heritage variety from Washington, a heritage variety of a hard red wheat, and a little bit more modern grain, which is our state and hard white wheat. We started with these five varieties. And what happened was, because we were new and we didn’t really know anything, and we didn’t know what was going to sell we kind of there. The people knew what the hard red and her white wheats were and even right, so we immediately had business because of those primary grains that people were familiar with. The emmer and the einkorn took a lot of educating to get people to understand how to use the grains not only in cooking, but also in baking. So what I have found in our business is, we had a lot of products and what I’ve been doing is slowly taking away and focusing on the ones that obviously have carry the most weight. You have the best margins and are the most popular. So that was a big lesson for me. Like I didn’t go to school and marketing, product development. This was all new to me. The way we started was just kind of a throw it all up in the air and see what people like. There probably could have been a more methodical way of doing that. But what we have found over time is we are scaling, we’re really trying to focus on those products that really do sell and then with those products that sell for example like our dinner line, we have a dinner line right now which is in the grain and beans section in the grocery store. Five products it is our whole grain Emmer faro, our whole grain einkorn Anca and lentil blend which is our emmer and a French lentil blend, Potlatch peel off, which is a split, Emmer and a wild rice. And then just a straight split Emmer faro, which is similar to like a bulgur wheat. Got it. So we have these five product lines or five products in our dinner line. And what I have found is, I think reflecting back, there’s probably too many to start, I probably should have started with three and just really educated everybody well, about those three products. But over time, now I am looking at those five products, I mean, they are the heavy lifters for our brand, and they are sold all over the Northwest and go beyond the Northwest. But I cannot believe how much educating I still do about well, what do you do with a split Faro? This is a new concept for people like, I’m introducing a new grain. And I’m also introducing a new grinder the grain. Know what split Faro is. So that’s, that’s where I find myself like, we’re really trying to focus on what we do now instead of continuing to develop new products, which I do see that in our future, once we kind of get our current product lines completely shiny, clean.
Diana Fryc 22:47
Yes. Well, I mean, now’s a good time to do a SKU rationalization or product rationalization and kind of reset based off of how people’s buying habits and the marketplace is starting to shift. And yeah, the 80 20 rule, for reason, or happens for a reason. So good thinking, a good time to be thinking about what looks next by cleaning up what you’ve got right now. Excuse me, Oh, you guys probably know that I’m still suffering from a little post-long COVID. But try to keep myself together here. Now I’m thinking in those early days, farming and the type of farming that you and your team are probably doing now were a little bit different. And I’m curious the farming practices that you’re using, and remind me, do you own all the farmland, are you purchasing from farmers or a little bit of both?
Brooke Lucy 23:59
Yeah, so now we farm on our own land. But we also contract with other growers primarily in Washington State.
Diana Fryc 24:10
Got you. Let’s talk about farming practices now. I know that in the past, I mean, farming practices are much different now than they were when you first started, but I’m curious. First of all, the first question before this is how much of the land do you guys own? Do you use contract farming or is that a combination of both?
Brooke Lucy 24:32
Yeah, so right now, we do both. We grow on our own land and we also contract with other farmers primarily in Washington State with who are all within about 100 miles radius from us from Winthrop. So we’ve got just Waterville, Okanagan, Cornell. When we started the first 12 years of our production, we were doing 100% of the farming ourselves on our own land, and land that we own did land that we were releasing at a time. So that was the first 12 years of business. And our business and our brands started as a vertically integrated farm. Once we started really getting traction in the marketplace, we could not keep up with the demand. And we do not really live in a community where there’s a lot of access to farmland. And that was definitely one of the limiting factors for us at the time is we just couldn’t find land 12 years ago, or this was just like 10 years ago, is when we really were starting to try to secure more land and get more people on board. And it wasn’t just land, but it was the concept of growing organically in eastern Washington. Really hard for a lot of farmers at the time to mess around. I think that’s changing now, which is really exciting. And it is part of our mission, if you will, and it has always been, to try to at least lead by example and show farmers that there are other ways of generating profits that are not attached to subsidies and that are absolutely viable and profitable. And that farming organically is a legitimate way to farm productively and ethically.
Diana Fryc 27:03
Brooke Lucy 27:06
So, there were certainly some years there was very isolating and really hard, because we were trying to engage with more local, like local within our own Valley. And it just was not working, we were beating our heads against the wall could not get farmers on board. But at the time, we were also getting more recognition nationally, and my husband had been featured in a couple of farming publications. And we had farmers reaching out to us in Washington saying, hey, we’d love to partner with you. If you ever want to grow, need more growers, and we’d like to learn from you. So that’s when we realized like, why are we spending so much time just trying to figure out who’s right here when we have people like over the in the next valley who are interested in want to work with us? So that was a big shift for us for we felt like we had to do it all ourselves. I think it was clear that if we were going to survive as a business and healthy humans in healthy relationships, because this is a husband-wife team, you have to think outside the box, I guess at the time. And our heels are so dug into our principles about doing it all that we were actually losing sight of actually running a viable business. So, that was a big shift.
Diana Fryc 28:59
Yeah. I think it’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to lose sight of what the end goal is because there’s so many tactics in the middle that sometimes you get caught up in the tactics and forget the actually the end goal is to bring this product to market. How we get there, do we have to be involved in how we get there or can we lead people through how we get there?
Brooke Lucy 29:28
Yeah, and I think you’re right, I think you get you get so consumed with what you’re doing that you forget that you can engage with other people and still continue to make just as quality products. You do not have to do it all and you can’t do it all. I really believe that if you’re going to have a business that has any legs under it, you’ve got to engage with other resources and other people, you cannot do it all. Anyway, so that was really a big shift for us to bring on these other partners. And we went from our tagline, the first 10 years was organic, ancient grains from cloud of plate. And since then we’ve really changed our mindset about our farming practices, and just the whole concept of plowing has really shifted because we are not really plowing anymore. And I just was thinking, just the other day, I have a new gal on my marketing team. And I was like, we got to like, get all that plow language off of our website, because we are not plowing anymore.
Diana Fryc 30:50
Yeah, it’s all new.
Brooke Lucy 30:52
Yeah. So that’s where we’re really shifting into these regenerative farming practices. No till farming. It requires 100% retooling of equipment, farm equipment. It’s expensive. Were its own almost $100,000 a pop for every new implement. So it’s a significant investment. But the good news is most of our farmers that are now under us, they haven’t farming regeneratively. And we are all working together to support one another. And so we can give each other tips. We have phone calls with each other, we share photos. It’s like a support network. And it’s exciting.
Diana Fryc 31:57
Yes. I love that. Well, so let’s talk a little bit about that for a second. Is your husband a farmer? Or did you guys just okay, because I was thinking to myself, so they just randomly decide to become farmers. That’s a big thing. So this makes a little bit of sense. You have this idea? And he had some experience and you could start to put something together?
Brooke Lucy 32:21
Yeah, he has farming experience, had been farming before we started our business. So yeah.
Diana Fryc 32:31
Okay. I’m wondering, who did you look to or do you have any mentors? Were there any people that were instrumental in kind of guiding you or maybe even still continuing to guide you through? Whether it’s the operational or philosophical thinking of how you’re running your business?
Brooke Lucy 32:55
Yeah. In the very beginning, there weren’t a lot of resources. I believe that we were the second organic grain farm in Washington State in 2005. But this does lead to an interesting story that at the time, there was one other grain farmer and we found him and made a connection and he actually was the very beginning he gave us a lot of resources he was out of Tonasket. He had rain tree farm, and oh, his name is Treebeard and his wife Raina. They were our initial touchstones on getting our business going. And they had been growing organic grains and they had been milling there on organic grains. So they did help us in the very beginning and were hugely supportive. And in fact, they were actually looking to retire, ended up kind of facilitating us getting just with the concept of growing and then milling farm fresh flower. That was a huge for us to have that relationship with them. And they kind of shepherd us a few years just getting new. They did pass on the heritage dry that we now grow, which is a heritage grain that has been grown in Washington for over 100 years. It’s a very unique varieties specific to Washington farmers has really been passed down by Washington farmers. So, we take a great pride in keeping the seed and this strain alive. So that came from Raina and Treebeard from Tonasket. So, yeah, those types of relationships are absolutely huge and critical. And since then we have made all kinds of wonderful connections with wonderful growers, one of our growers, but Brad Bailey is in Cornell. He has been an organic farmer for years and is a huge resource for us, supporter and partner.
Diana Fryc 35:40
That’s awesome. I love that the Northwest is taking care of itself.
Brooke Lucy 35:47
Yeah, it makes me realize just the concept of growing your own food and having food security, which is a real hot topic now, after going through COVID. And seeing the issues in our supply chain, I think it’s gotten the general public to really start thinking about supply chains, and where we get our food from. But the farmers in this country carry an incredible responsibility. And I feel like they often do not get credit for the importance of their jobs, which is to be the keepers of seed and to be the tenders of plants and agriculture and to be the harvesters. And the store that they store our food and they get our food to market. And there is I think it’s at a place right now where as a country, we have some serious work to do about our supply chain issues. And I truly believe the Farm Bill needs a serious overhaul so that we can really stop thinking about feeding the world and start thinking and getting more focused on how we feed America, in ourselves, and how our supply chains work.
Diana Fryc 37:34
Yeah, I think we could do a better job personally, doing both. We can feed the world and take care of ourselves, we really can, especially when we hear about, there’s still plenty of farmers out there that are getting paid to not produce. We’re still wasting product, we’re overproducing subsidized products, like we could just be smarter overall, and help a lot of these CPG brands that are making product gain access to like over producing, like there’s a little bit of supply and demand that isn’t being managed properly, because we have these archaic farm bills that are no longer serving the farmers or the community of the United States or of the planet and I think a wholesale look at it and just kind of go, is this the best way for us to be doing this? I think there are lots of opportunity for growth there.
Brooke Lucy 38:39
Yeah, I agree. And I think that we forget, I think we’ve lost sight of where things grow best and how they’re growing our food. I think that America has been too quick to jump into other countries with GMO foods telling other countries how to grow foods when they already know and have well-established food systems that date. hundreds, if not 1000s of years. And here we go and destroy entire systems so that we can produce our GMO cotton.
Diana Fryc 39:26
Or whatever wheat or white rice or insert your product. Yeah.
Brooke Lucy 39:31
So yeah, I think that we are at a time because of the climate change, because of supply chain issues, COVID, this horrific Ukraine situation.
Diana Fryc 39:44
Oh my gosh, yeah.
Brooke Lucy 39:45
We have got to really dig into what we have and look at sustainable regenerative practices so that we can start making our own carbon and fertilizer.
Diana Fryc 40:02
Yes, absolutely. Well as you think about it, I’m curious, we’ve talked a lot about a number of hurdles and challenges that you’ve had, I’m curious, what are those, maybe one or two items that you are most proud of, either for yourself on this journey of growth or for your brand?
Brooke Lucy 40:32
I think one thing I’m very proud of is being a relatively small company and being vertically integrated. We have had the ability to really pivot quickly when things change, for example, with COVID. Because we were the producers and the processors, and everything is in-house, we are literally in the same building, we’ve got all the grain stored, we are processing all the grain, we are milling all the grain, we are stacking all the grain, and we are shipping it out direct to consumer all under one roof. And so that really allowed us to pivot from sending big large distributors pallets out to small USPS packages during COVID, which for us, it was like, a 180-degree turn and how we conducted business overnight. And so I’m very proud that we were able to just respond to that shift. And in turn, allowed our incredible growth for our company, the last year and that growth has not changed last two years. So it just made me realize how important back to that resiliency piece, how important it is to be resilient. You really have to be you kind of do have to do it all when you are in this vertically integrated space where we had to be selling wholesale, we had to sell through distribution, and we had to sell retail to keep our business floating. That’s how we rolled. And you know, even though for years, it felt crazy to be pulling all these markets. Now, looking back, it’s what kept us not only afloat, but now it’s what is expanding our business.
Diana Fryc 42:50
Well, and I would argue to say that there’s something about a farmer mentality, farmers’ stubbornness, a farmer tenacity, like your husband’s personal background and yours. I mean, being in the wilderness and being so self-sufficient. That has you comfortable with doing it all yourself? Right. It’s like your superpower and your weakness at the same time a little bit. Yeah. So no surprise that you guys could weather pretty much anything considering kind of where your backgrounds are.
Brooke Lucy 43:31
That’s a good perspective, Diana, and really thought about that. I will say that now that I’m I broke 50. Yeah. I feel like there’s a time and a place for that. And I think that there’s also no shame in being able to not do it all. And I think that’s really where I’m realizing that that’s where we just personally have to shift is being okay to let go of it and trust that someone else can do it just as good as us if they have the right information.
Diana Fryc 44:18
Yeah, for sure. It’s a growth opportunity. Yeah. Well, I’m curious, what advice do you find yourself giving out right now to other maybe to new farmers, or I don’t know if you’ve had anybody reached out to you and say, hey, I want to start my own milling company. Brooke, tell me if I’m crazy, or what I mean, what advice are you giving out right now when people are calling you?
Brooke Lucy 44:44
Gosh, I think for newbies, people who are just going into business, really any business, I feel really strongly that if you know you’ve got that entrepreneurial spirit, you want to be independent, because a lot of that spirit is all about being independent being in charge of your own. My advice is really find another someone that you look up to, and just see if you can work with them, shadow them before you jump in. Because I think that being able to know how it works on the ground for an entrepreneur in any small business is hugely important before you strike off on your own. I think personally, I wasted a lot of years doing things and having to rewind because I just didn’t have the right information. And I was just kind of lead by fire. And that wasn’t probably the best situation at the time. So I think that and then the other piece of the puzzle that I’ve really learned a lot about most recently is that you have to feel comfortable with risk. And it’s a personality trait. I’m certain. You are going to try jumping off that ridge or you’re not and you are not the person that is willing to take that bungee and wrap it around your ankle and jump. That’s okay. Like, if you’re not really comfortable with risk, it’s going to be really hard ever getting to a point where you feel like you’re going to generate enough income to make it worth it.
Diana Fryc 46:43
Got it? Yeah, I agree. Good. Thank you for those. Now, tell us a little bit about what’s next for you, or what can we expect from Bluebird Grain Farms in the next year? I don’t know.
Brooke Lucy 46:55
Yeah, well, let’s see. It is June 9 and in 10 days, we’re going to be moving into our new processing facility. So that is coming down the pike. And that’s been a huge hurdle for us something that we needed to do for probably six years. We started planning five years ago. It took us probably two years to just solidify all of the things that it takes to build a processing facility. All the engineering, it’s just been a huge push. But we are 10 days away from moving in and up-scaling. So we’re going to go from a pretty much a 2500 square foot building to a 6700 square foot building.
Diana Fryc 47:55
Oh my goodness, that’s huge.
Brooke Lucy 47:57
So, our employees are super excited about just having space. We have boxes just stacked everywhere. In our current facility. We’re so tight, and it’s been hard to function. Frankly, you know how busy it is and just having limited space. And again, we’re rural, like there’s like 7000 people in our community. We don’t have industrial buildings that we can just move into. So that’s why we ended up choosing to build and get this rolling. So that’s really exciting for us.
Diana Fryc 48:42
Yeah. Oh my God, that sounds like oh, I can’t remember her name. Over at Girl Meets Dirt over on Orcas Island. Have you met her? She’s running into capacity issues I think again.
Brooke Lucy 48:56
It’s so hard. And yeah. Yeah, Lopez is very limited by space. Yeah, that’s really challenging. It is really challenging.
Diana Fryc 49:11
Well, Brooke, I just have really enjoyed this. And again, because I’ve been a super fan of your product for I don’t know how many years but it’s been a while, it’s been such a joy to connect with you today. I just have one last question. I like to ask this question of everybody in that is are there any other women leaders or rising stars out there in our industry or not that you would like to elevate or simply admire for the work that they’re doing right now? Who are they and why?
Brooke Lucy 49:45
Oh, gosh, okay, well, I have a couple of ladies in mind and one is just kind of an interpersonal thing that I will say for any woman in business, especially women who are in business, who have families, managing families and maybe even managing with their husband or partner in their business, I have needed time to kind of stop and reflect and think about, just the whole the roles and all the things that we juggle as women and also those invisible tasks that we do that Diana and I were talking about earlier. Like there’s so many things that women keep moving forward that nobody knows about. I will say Brene Brown has been somebody who I have leaned in on like listening to her books on tape. Yeah, absolutely saved me. Just be like, stopping and going for a walk and listening to her on tape has kind of been my mind meditation over the years. I feel like I’ve kind of grown up with her and a grown-up business owner and have watched her develop her own business and her philosophies just really resonate with how I feel and how I roll. So I’d like to give a shout-out to her.
Diana Fryc 51:29
Miss Brene Brown.
Brooke Lucy 51:35
Yeah. Thank you. And then just one other woman just on the more political spectrum, but shout out to Deb Haaland, who has the first Native American to serve as a cabinet secretary for the Department of Interior. She is in the Senate of New Mexico and has been appointed by the Biden administration. And I am just so happy and honored that we finally have that Native American woman in leadership. Give her a shout-out. Yes, she deserves it.
Diana Fryc 52:23
All right. We’re going to hashtag her all over the place. Well, I have been chatting with Brooke Lucy, co-owner and founder of Bluebird Grain Farms. Brooke, where can people learn more about you and your brand?
Brooke Lucy 52:35
Yeah, well, you can go to our website at bluebirdgrainfarms.com. Then we also are on Instagram at Bluebird Grain Farms and Facebook, same Bluebird Grain Farms. So love to hear from you.
Diana Fryc 52:52
I love it. Well, thank you so much for your time today, Brooke, I’m so happy that I’ve gotten to meet you in person. And I really am looking forward to what you and your team are going to be doing next. I know you’re influencing farming, and the way people eat, which is awesome. You’re bi-directional in your efforts, I love it. And then I just want to thank all of you listeners for your time today. If you liked this episode, please share it with a friend. Otherwise, have a great rest of your day and we’ll catch you next time on the Gooder Podcast.
Brooke Lucy 53:30
Diana Fryc 53:31
Yeah, you bet.
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