Pacific Northwest History

A Weekend Trip to the George Washington Inn and other Pacific Northwest Agricultural Heritage Sites

President Washington entertaining his guests. Wife Lois is on the left.

President Washington entertaining his guests. Wife Lois is on the left.

My wife and I recently returned from a remarkably enjoyable weekend trip visiting some amazing sites related to agricultural heritage right here in the Pacific Northwest. We began at the George Washington Inn, Dan and Janet Abbott's five-star B & B located on the ocean between Sequim and Port Angeles. The Inn is a full scale replica of Washington's Mt. Vernon and Dan is passionate about America's colonial heritage in every way, including farming techniques for the living history farm he is developing. The last week of July the Pacific Northwest Colonial Festival will be held on the scenic grounds of the George Washington Inn. We had the special privilege of meeting President Washington himself (acclaimed reenactor Vern Frykholm) at breakfast and served him some Palouse Heritage Colonial pancakes made with our own landrace grain flour, which he pronounced as, "Just like Martha makes!" 

The George Washington Inn, located between Port Angeles and Sequim

The George Washington Inn, located between Port Angeles and Sequim

Richardsons' Oat Pancakes

Richardsons' Oat Pancakes

Fry's Bakery

Fry's Bakery

Following a delightful time with Dan and President Washington, we continued on across the water via the Blackball Ferry to Victoria, British Columbia, where we were treated to a wonderful tour of the vicinity's agricultural heritage by Foster and Natasha Richardson who farm near Mill Creek, British Columbia. We dined on the most scrumptious oak pancakes--more like a cake actually, at Victoria's Nourish Kitchen & Cafe, and also toured Fry's Bakery, operated by friends of the Richardsons. Our principal destination was Hatley Park Castle, located about ten miles west of Victoria, which is the home of BC's Royal Roads University and three-time host of Queen Elizabeth on her trips to British Columbia. Royal Roads occupies the former grounds of the Hudson's Bay Company's Colwood Farm. Some of the province's earliest grain was raised at Colwood and adjacent Craigflower Farm, and evidence of these places' agrarian heritage can still be seen in Craigflower's manor house and the Colwood Farm stone dairy building. 

Our trip was another reminder of the rich agricultural heritage we have here in the northwest, and further inspires us to continue restoring those healthy and earth-friendly landrace grains from our past. People like George Washington and fur trade farmers thrived on them, and so should we!

Hatley Park Castle

Hatley Park Castle

Palouse Colony Farm Officially Recognized as Washington State Historic Site!

We’re pleased to report that our Palouse Colony Farm was placed on the Washington State Historic Preservation Office Register for the original barn and outbuildings and the property’s role in Pacific Northwest history as an important “clearing house” for German immigrants from Russia arriving in to region from 1880s to the 1910s. State Preservation Officer Mike Houser made the presentation at the October, 2016 meeting of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. 

Richard and wife Lois (right) at the State Historic Preservation Meeting, Tacoma

Richard and wife Lois (right) at the State Historic Preservation Meeting, Tacoma

The barn (c. 1895) is the oldest building at the farm, which also includes the house and blacksmith shop, which was established by a German immigrant families from Russia’s Volga River region who arrived in the Washington’s Endicott-St. John area in 1882 and established the colony in 1889. The location became a thriving settlement that provisioned families coming from the Old Country to settle in the region, and according to historian Richard Sallet, some 100,000 first- and second-generation Germans from Russia followed to live in Pacific Northwest by 1920. Colony founder parents described the Palouse as a “Land of Milk and Honey” to their children who tended the colony’s dairy herd and raided bee hives along the river. The newcomers used farming methods of medieval origin—long, narrow Langstreifen fields (akin to English furlongs) in three-crop rotations (Dreifelderwirtschaft), a shared “commons” (Almenden) for grazing and gardens, and harvests with sickle and scythe.

In recent years we have reestablished the farm to grow landrace grains using the same Old World farming methods used by the farm's original founders. 

Palouse Colony Farm and Heritage Grain Plots (Turkey Red wheat, Scots Bere barley)

Palouse Colony Farm and Heritage Grain Plots (Turkey Red wheat, Scots Bere barley)

2016 Spokane Food and Farm Expo

Palouse Heritage had the opportunity to present at the 2016 Food & Farm Expo in Spokane. Our co-founders, Richard and Don Scheuerman, participated in the event along with several of our friends and partners who have joined us in the effort to raise awareness about the benefits of landrace grains. 

Richard taught one of the classes at the event, titled:

Heritage and Landrace Grains:  Restoring the soil, our health and flavor with heritage and Landrace Grains

You can watch his lecture below. The accompanying PowerPoint slide deck is available by clicking here.

Palouse Regional Studies Celebration at WSU

On 4 November 2016, Palouse Heritage had the privilege to participate in an event at Washington State University (WSU) celebrating Palouse regional studies. Specifically, the occasion commemorated Gary Schneimiller's generous gift to WSU Libraries in honor of research related to the Palouse region. Gary is a friend of Palouse Heritage and it was truly a privilege for our co-founder, Richard Scheuerman, to give the keynote speech. We commend Gary for his generosity and shared passion for celebrating the rich history of the Inland Pacific Northwest.

You can view the video of Richard's talk below.


Land and First Peoples

Looming above the panoramic Palouse near the heart of the region stands a promontory revered by the native peoples known today as Steptoe Butte. To the Palouse Indians it was Yamustas (“Elk’s Abode”), a sacred high place of spirit quests and the abode of mythical Bull Elk. An honored figure in tribal folklore, this creature was said to have found sanctuary during the time of the Animal People in the cleft of the butte's eastern face. Its majestic antlers stretched toward the summit and remain visible today. To the area's first European-American explorers, who dubbed it "Pyramid Peak" for resembling Egypt's great monument to Cheops, the butte served like a mariner's landmark, a strange island in an oceanic maelstrom of earthen waves cresting with wind-pulsed native wheatgrasses and fescues.

Before the sextant and plow demarcated and denuded these fertile swells, they were seasonally transformed from soft springtime viridian hues with wildflowered splashes of bluebells, flaming Indian paintbrush, and bright yellow arrowleaf balsamroot into summer and fall's muted green-brown pastels mixed in the bunchgrass billows. The butte continues to serve as a landmark Palouse portal to Native Americans today. On several occasions while in the company of Nez Perces returning to Lapwai from the Colville Reservation or with Coeur d' Alenes headed east from Warm Springs, I have heard elders say, "When I see Steptoe Butte, I know that I am home."

Elk's Abode - Steptoe Butte (John Clement)

Elk's Abode - Steptoe Butte (John Clement)

The Palouse region covers that part of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho in the Palouse River basin as well as adjacent lands characterized by a rolling terrain of fertile loess soils. This area covers approximately 4,000 square miles and lies largely in Washington's Whitman and Spokane counties, the eastern third of Adams County, and in Idaho's Latah County. Nearly seventy percent of the land is arable, composed of deep deposits of rich but fragile topsoil which cover immense layers of brown-black basalt. This bedrock shield is up to 10,000 feet thick resulting from successive lava flows through fissures across the Columbia Plateau during the late Miocene Epoch between six and seventeen million years ago when the area of today's Palouse Country, before the Cascade uplift, received as much as fifty inches of annual rainfall to host a mixed forest of conifers, maples, water tupelo, and oak similar to America's southeastern bald cypress swamps of today.

The Palouse is bounded by the Snake and Clearwater rivers on the south and Idaho's imposing Bitterroot and Clearwater Mountains to the east. The evergreen forests of these eastern uplands extend across the northern half of Spokane County along a line roughly corresponding to the deepest penetration of the great Pleistocene glaciers to form the region's northern limit. The Cheney-Palouse lobe of the Channeled Scablands comprises the region's western boundary which extends from the timber line near Tyler, Washington south to the mouth of the Palouse River. Annual rainfall increases from an average of fourteen inches in the western Palouse prairies to eighteen inches in the central Palouse Hills and up to twenty-two inches in the foothills of the eastern mountains.

This pattern corresponds to a rise in elevation from 1,200 feet in the southwest corner of the Palouse prairie to the fringe of the Clearwater Palouse Range at 2,800 feet, almost exactly one inch of precipitation for every hundred feet of elevation. Variations in soil fertility developed over ages due to increasing rainfall eastward led to climax vegetation associated with the Palouse's three climatic life zones: Upper Sonoran in the western Palouse, Arid Transition across the central Palouse Hills, and Canadian in the eastern mountain uplands.

Palouse Heritage Has Been Busy

Though Palouse Heritage launched recently, we have been busy researching and growing out our landrace grains for years. In the process, we have had unique opportunities to showcase our work. Here are some highlights:

Due to his deep expertise and growing public interest in the grains we are raising at Palouse Colony Farm, Richard regularly receives invitations to speak on landrace grains and agricultural history. This past year, he was asked to deliver a presentation at the annual Carolina Gold Rice Foundation's (CGRF) annual conference. The CGRF exists to advance sustainable restoration and preservation of Carolina Gold Rice and other heirloom grains. Its members work to raise public awareness of the importance of heirloom agriculture. They are affiliated with one of the leaders in organic heirloom grain milling, Anson Mills. 

The full title of Richard's presentation is Our Daily Bread:  Heritage Grains for Health, Culture & Occassional Profit. In this talk, he shares insights from his research into regional history and landrace grains, much of which laid the foundation for the launch of Palouse Heritage. You can watch it here:

In June 2015, the Pike Brewery Company launched its new Skagit Valley Alba, the first Washington State varietal beer and one made with 100% in-state ingredients. Also known as "Pike Locale," Palouse Colony Farm's Purple Egyptian Barley Malt is among the key ingredients. Seattle Eater captured the excitement over this novel brew. Here is an excerpt:

"Barley, the grain that, once malted, makes up the key ingredient in most beers, is largely produced as a commodity (think big production plants churning out a uniform product). Brewers may add ingredients such as hops for a more distinct flavor, but the barley is often the same, particularly in American beers. Until now. For its new Skagit Valley Alba, the first in a new Pike Locale series of like beers, Pike Brewing sources its malts from Skagit Valley and Whitman County Farms."

Full article:

"Pike Locale" Featuring Purple Egyptian Barley Raised on Palouse Colony Farm

"Pike Locale" Featuring Purple Egyptian Barley Raised on Palouse Colony Farm


The Rodale Institute researches and shares information on the best practices of organic agriculture. They featured our own Richard Scheuerman and our early heritage grains efforts in July 2014:

Another unique opportunity came in the spring of 2013. As reported by the Time Media Company:

"WSU/Mt. Vernon Research Center Director Stephen Jones, a prominent voice nationally for sustainable agriculture, contacted [Palouse Heritage's] Dr. Richard Scheuerman regarding a White House health education initiative. Jones had collaborated the previous year with Blue Hill Farm Restaurant chef and best-selling author Dan Barber (The Third Plate) in a project to include cereal grains in the White House Kitchen Garden. Michelle Obama’s influential “Let’s Move” initiative has promoted use of more whole grains and vegetables to improve the health of America’s youth and prevent childhood obesity. Jones, Scheuerman, and WSU/MV senior agronomist Steve Lyon had been working for three years with a group of Northwest farmers to reintroduce heirloom milling and malting grains to the region. Among the varieties selected for the White House project was one raised in Washington State as early as the 1890s and named the “Lincoln oat” in honor of the famed 16th U. S. president—himself raised on small farms in Kentucky and Indiana."

Palouse Heritage was honored to contribute towards this project.

First Lady Michelle Obama Welcoming Students to the White House Kitchen Garden AP Photo/Susan Walsh

First Lady Michelle Obama Welcoming Students to the White House Kitchen Garden
AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Steve Jones and Dan Barber inspecting White House Lincoln Oats Hannalore Suderman photo

Steve Jones and Dan Barber inspecting White House Lincoln Oats
Hannalore Suderman photo

Speaking of Blue Hill Farm Restaurant chef Dan Barber, he was elated to receive a sample of our Purple Egyptian barley, with which he baked these remarkably tasty loafs:

Delicious! We are grateful for these types of opportunities we've had and are excited about what the future holds for Palouse Heritage.

The Harvest Heritage Exhibition - The Palouse Heritage Collection

Objects & Art Commemorating Agrarian Traditions & Landrace Crops

Our years of research and passion for authentic, old world farming has led to us create a unique and remarkable collection of items celebrating agricultural history. When we travel to conferences and other events, we often bring some of these rare items for others to see and enjoy. To help share with a wider audience, we thought it appropriate to share a blog post listing all the treasures we have in this collection.

The Gleaners Tapestry (Belgium, c. 1950)

The Gleaners Tapestry (Belgium, c. 1950)

I. Early Modern European Engravings—The Book of Ruth Gleaning Motifs

(A) Gerard de Jode (1585); (B) G. Freman and (1672); (C) Mattias Scheits and François Halma (1710)

(D) T. Stothard, The Seasons (London, 1794); (E) B. Foster, The Farmer’s Boy (London, 1858)

II. Franklin Knight, ed., [George] Washington’s Agricultural Correspondence: Letters… to Arthur Young and John Sinclair (1847).   Morocco-bound leather with engravings and maps


III. 19th Century European Agrarian Realist Art Prints

(A) J. Breton, Harvest (1860); (B) G. Myasoyedev, Reapers (1887); (C) Van Gogh, Wheat Sheaves (1890)

IV. Early 20th Century American Periodical & McCormick Centennial (1831-1931) Color Lithographs

(A) P. Helck, Combine Harvester and Railroad (1930); (B) P. Lyford, McCormick-Deering Harvester-Thresher (1931), (C) N. C. Wyeth, The World’s First Reaper (1931), (D) E. Baker, Wheat Harvest (1935)


V. Agrarian Folk Art

(A) Painted wooden bowl in primitive Volga Khokhlama style (Henry & Anna Litzenberger, 1876); (B) G. V. Kurchatkina, “Novgorod Cathedral” & Straw Overlay Salyomki Box (Russia, 1991); (C) Fern Enos, Heart Wheat-weaving (Colfax, WA, c. 1980)


VI. Grain Mills and Baking Equipment

(A) Pine Kneading Trough & Cabinet-Work Table (Eastern Europe, c. 1900); (B) Iron Mortar & Pestle (c. 1870); (C) Hand Iron-Buhr Mill (c. 1880); (D) Iron Enterprise No. 10 Grain Mill (U. S., c. 1920); (E) Meadows Mill Kitchen Grain Mill

VI. Flour and Feed Milling Equipment

(A) Foos Horse-Powered Mill (Springfield, OH, c. 1900, from the Finley Ranch near Inchelium on the Colville Indian Reservation, WA); (B) Ensberg French Stone-Buhr Mill (c. 1890, Peterson, MN)


VII. Harvest Hand Tools, Winnowing Basket, and Fanning Mill

(A) Cradle Scythe; (B) Grain Rake; (C) Threshing Flail; (D) Scoop Shovel (c. 1875), (E) Puget Sound Salish Winnowing Basket (c. 1900); (F) Pacific Fanning Mill (Kenosha, WI, c. 1910; from a farm near Schrag, WA)

VII. Commercial Container Art

(A) Champoeg Flour Mills “Golden Sheaf” Flour Sack (c. 1890); (B) Washburn-Crosby Flour Barrel (c. 1895); (C) Hungarian Linen Grain Sack (c. 1910);  (D) Sperry Flour Company “Harina” Four Sack (c. 1940)


IX. Liberty Hyde Bailey Published Works, Agrarian History, and the “New Agrarianism”

(A) L. H. Bailey, The Cyclopedia of American Agriculture, (4 Volumes, 1908); (B) L. H. Bailey, The Holy Earth (1915); (C) Liberty Hyde Bailey: Essential Agrarian & Environmental Writings (2008), What Are People For? Essays by Wendell Berry (1990)


X. Portfolios

(A) Gustavus Sohon and John Mix Stanley color lithographs, in I. I. Stevens, Narrative and Final Report of Explorations for a Route for a Pacific Railroad (Washington, D.C., 1860); (B) Eugéne Graff color lithographs, in H. Vilmorin, Les Meilleurs Blés [The Best Wheats] (Paris, 1880); (C)The Country Gentleman, Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, and other 19th and 20th century periodical lithographs