Bluebird Grain Farms

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by Ashley Lodato

Bluebird Grain Farms staff writer

Some 1960s-era newlyweds took up golf together or joined bridge circles, but for Gail (some call him Pete) and Judy Prichard the mutual hobby was baking bread. “When Gail and I got married we just started baking bread,” says Judy. “We were baking long before we had kids.”

Judy explains that baking bread using organic ingredients sourced as locally as possible was part of the ethic she and Gail shared early on in their marriage. “We planted a garden and grew as much food as we could,” she says. “It was all part of our intention to eat as well as we could.”

Although Judy grew up with a mother who baked bread regularly, Judy didn’t really learn to bake until college. “In my early college years, both of my parents were very ill. I had to cook for them one summer. My mother kind of walked me through it.” Taking up bread baking with her new husband, then, was a perfectly logical next step. “Now it feels like something I’ve always done,” Judy says.

Through her middle child, Susan, who lives in the Methow Valley where Bluebird Grain Farms is located, Judy learned about Bluebird Grain Farms. “It was so wonderful to learn about their family farm and to be able to buy grains from a family that is doing a really good thing,” says Judy of Brooke and Sam Lucy. “We just really wanted to support them in what they do.”

“And their products are just so good,” Judy continues. “We love the taste of their fresh-milled flours and cereals, as well as the whole grain emmer farro.”

These days, Judy mainly bakes whole wheat bread for hers and Gail’s consumption. “Unless it’s Christmas or the grandkids are coming,” she says. “I don’t bake a lot with just 2 of us now, but when I do bake I always use Bluebird Grain Farms products.” For her signature whole wheat bread, Judy uses Bluebird’s Methow Hard Red Wheat flour. For pie crusts, biscuits, muffins, scones, buttermilk hotcakes, and banana bread, Judy likes the Pasayten Hard White Wheat flour, although she is quick to acknowledge that the Organic Emmer Farro flour and Organic Einkorn flour add a nutty flavor and chewy texture to quick bread like banana bread. “We really like the Einka flour,” she says.

Judy notes that she and Gail routinely substitute Organic Whole Grain Emmer Farro for rice, finding it a far more nutritious carbohydrate than rice, as well as one with a hearty flavor and robust texture.

Judy didn’t deliberately train her own 3 children in the art of baking, but threads of her passion for good grains were passed on to her kids in different forms. Her daughter Susan bakes stacks of cinnamon whole wheat sweet bread to give away at Christmas. Her youngest, Karin, orders Bluebird’s Organic Old World Cereal blend to be shipped to her home in California.

Judy and Gail’s home on Whidbey Island is not all that far from the Methow Valley as the crow flies, and although delivery service is available, Judy tends to rely on her daughter Susan’s frequent work trips to the west side of the state to keep her supplied in Bluebird Grains. Of the flours, whole grains, and cereals Judy says, “It’s probably the most local product that I know about.”

And with a nod to the single degree of separation that seems to be the norm of social relationships in tiny communities like the Methow Valley Judy notes, “It’s neat to be able to buy your organic flour from a farmer whose daughters are in piano recitals with your own grandkids.”

Click here for Judy’s whole wheat bread recipe.