On the Road – Black Corn, Black Barley, Black Lentils, and Black Chick Peas

Daryl Lasilla

We headed off on our Montana “drive-about” looking for heritage grains, small grains, and grain alternatives; and we found some of the nicest people raising some of the most interesting crops!

Daryl Lasilla and his wife, Linda, farm just outside Great Falls and we made the visit to his fields. That was, of course, after we had breakfast and coffee.

The soil on the 1000+ acres Daryl farms is rich and black and heavy with clay. He told us that the topsoil is nearly 100 feet deep.

2011 has not been a good year for buckwheat; and the Lasilla farm has fields that may not ripen in time for harvest. On the other hand, winter wheat has done well and the harvest is in!

Ole Norgaard

The vagaries of weather brought a long cool wet spring that delayed planting and germination by nearly a month. Once the seeds were in the ground, the rain simply stopped and for the next three months none fell.

More than 100 miles to the east, Ole Norgaard faced the same challenges in a part of the state that has very thin, alkali soil. Ole harvested a good crop of triticale this year but his specialty, black corn, came a cropper. The same cool wet spring and drought brought his corn to a halt.

David Oien

Plants that would have borne 10- or 12-inch cobs full of jet-black kernels in a good year, produced nubbins no more than 5 or 6 inches long.

We arrived at Ole’s place about 12:45 PM, and before we could take the farm tour, we had lunch and a chat. Desert (which I ate first and not last!) was an amazing sweet black cornbread and honey.

Who needs cake? Moist with a flavor that was definitely more cake than bread, Ole’s special cornbread is a real treat.

Connecting Daryl and Ole is a link with David Oien, Timeless Seeds. Timeless Seeds cleans, packages, and markets a wide range of lentils as well as black barley and black chickpeas. Daryl raises lentils for David and Ole has his own flourmill located in the Timeless Seeds facility.

Such a small world!

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