Organically-grown rice begins to realize a foothold in retail and foodservice | 2018-02-21

SUMNER, MISS. — Having realized to develop rice in an ecological method, the Wagner household, homeowners of Two Brooks Farm, have begun advertising and marketing the rice in retail and meals service shops.

Firm luggage selling “organically grown rice for our world” seem in just a few dozen retail shops in Mississippi and Memphis, Tenn. They’re additionally bought on Amazon, and the corporate is working with US Meals on meals service. Rice varieties similar to basmati, brown brown rice, and white rice are provided as mixes.

“We wish to say that we serve humanity and nature, not simply humanity,” stated proprietor and founder Mike Wagner. “Our system serves each equally.”

There aren’t any fungicides or pesticides concerned in rising rice. Geese and geese deposit a considerable amount of fertilizer, and the remaining nitrogen wants are met with particular nitrogen sources, calibrated to the wants of every discipline. Yields are on a par with conventionally grown rice.

Two Brooks Farm additionally highlights the Wagner household’s farming historical past by selling rice, stated Lawrence Wagner, supervisor and Mike’s son. The household’s roots in American agriculture date again to 1742.

“You possibly can have a product, however you’ll want to have an ideal story behind it, and that is what we are able to do,” stated Lawrence Wagner, an Eleventh-generation farmer.

Whereas Lawrence Wagner runs the foodservice aspect of the enterprise, his sister, Abbey Wagner, handles the retail accounts because the advertising and marketing supervisor. Lawrence has a bachelor’s diploma in agribusiness from Mississippi State College in Starkville, Mississippi. Abbey has a bachelor’s diploma in advertising and marketing from Delta State College in Cleveland, Mississippi. Mike Wagner acquired a bachelor’s diploma in agronomy from the College of Missouri in Columbia, Mo.

“This has all been sort of a studying expertise for us,” Lawrence Wagner stated of promoting the rice, which the corporate began doing about three years in the past.

A lot of the rice at Two Brooks Farm doesn’t qualify as natural on account of using artificial nitrogen. Non-organic rice will get twice the yield of the corporate’s natural rice, Mike Wagner stated. Labor prices are decrease with organically grown rice, and the flat land owned by Two Brooks Farms reduces water runoff.

“We use about 25% of the water that many rice farms use,” Mike Wagner stated.

Different rice farmers may observe the identical kind of cultivation, however they could not have the benefit of flat land.

“They will seize among the benefits that we’ve, however they would not take pleasure in it as a lot as we do,” Wagner stated.

If different farms wish to replicate the farming strategies, Two Brooks Farms has but to develop an intensive set of tips for rising rice, Mike Wagner stated. He began farming rice organically within the Mississippi Delta within the Nineteen Nineties. Weeds, late planting, and late-harvest ruts have been among the issues he initially confronted.

“I believed it was going to smash me,” he stated. “He bought a little bit skinny for some time.”

Then he started to note extra life types like worms, mollusks, and snails within the discipline. The birds got here to feed on them. Birds deposited fertilizer, permitting Two Brooks Farm to cut back nitrogen inputs. Geese and geese trample straws into the mud.

“We rely on them to do a number of our farming,” Wagner stated of the birds.

The corporate purchased a mill about 5 years in the past and now grinds its personal rice. The mill performs an essential function in enabling Two Brooks Farm to promote its rice at a lower cost than different connoisseur rices, Lawrence Wagner stated. When Two Brooks Farm started advertising and marketing rice, the corporate targeted on quantity over worth, Lawrence Wagner stated.

“We simply took the product out and it began shifting,” stated Mike Wagner.

Now, Two Brooks Farm would like to safe a spot for its rice at Complete Meals Market or Sprouts retailers, Lawrence Wagner stated. Sooner or later, the corporate might additionally promote the rice as an ingredient to meals producers.

Media, together with an article in limitless geese, have targeted on farming strategies, Wagner stated. Representatives of the USA Division of Agriculture have additionally visited the farm.

“I believe that is the wave of the long run,” Wagner stated of natural farming.