Arizona already grows an internationally famous Desert Durum®, but did you know we’ve made a name for ourselves by growing some very ancient grains that originated in the Fertile Crescent, the crescent-shaped region in the Middle East, spanning modern-day Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria, northern Kuwait, south-eastern Turkey, and western Iran. The Fertile Crescent is believed to be the very first region where settled farming emerged as people started the process of clearance and modification of natural vegetation to grow newly domesticated plants as crops (per Wikipedia). 

Like Arizona, the Fertile Crescent area has diverse climates but most importantly lots of sunshine for extended growing seasons. It is this ancient story that brings us to the present day and our superb farming and ranching here in this desert state.

During the “Farm Fresh” hour on Rosie on the House last Saturday we had Travis Tolmachoff and Scott Sossaman of Grain R&D tell us their inspiring story about growing some of these Fertile Crescent grains. The full radio segment is below. 

One secret I’ll give away before you listen to the show: They are always researching, developing, and growing to the next level at Grain R&D. 


Some Fun Facts about Ancient Grains

  • Ancient grains have become more popular with the public in the past decade.
  • Ancient grains tend to be higher in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and zinc.
  • The most popular varieties of ancient grains include Spelt, Freekeh, Quinoa, Millet, Teff, Sorghum, Chia, Amaranth, Kamut, White Sonora, Rouge Bordeaux, Red Fife, Tibetan, Purple Barley, Emmer (Farro), Einkorn.
  • Einkorn is the oldest known wheat still grown and was one of the first plants to be domesticated and cultivated. The earliest clear evidence of the domestication of einkorn dates from 10,600 to 9,900 years ago from two archaeological sites in southern Turkey.
  • Emmer (Farro), or Jesus’ wheat, is considered the second oldest grain that exists today. Cooked farro looks and tastes like barley but has a slightly chewier texture and caramel notes. 
  • In Arizona, we are growing mainly White Sonora, Emmer, Purple Barley, and experimenting with a few more.
  • Why is Arizona a good place to grow ancient grains? Arizona has 300+ days of sunshine and the climate has similarities to the Fertile Crescent where so many of these ancient grains started.