Episode 7

Published on:

25th Apr 2022

Value-Added Lentils with Shauna and Terry Farver of Farver Farms

If you’ve ever thought that direct-to-consumer farm businesses are only for those located close to urban centers, this episode will challenge that thinking. Scobey, Montana is considered the second most middle-of-nowhere town in America. That’s where Terry grew up on the farm, and where he and Shauna have built their farm and business. Together they share about their journey on Farver Farms from farming to building their own farmer-direct brand of lentil snacks and mixes. 

“Our kids were getting ready to graduate from high school and talking about wanting to come back to the farm. As anyone in agriculture knows, there's only so many acres and only so many cows you can put on those acres or so much crop…So then the question became, how do we bring these two kids back and support two more families? And we knew that part of that was going to have to be off farm income.” - Shauna Farver

The Farver’s have developed and sell Lentil Crunchers as well as lentil-based cooking and baking mixes. This is a great story of finding creative ways to add value to a pulse crop marketing plan. It’s no easy undertaking, but it can be done. At the onset, Terry and Shauna pursued lentils as a part of the rotation to help with weed management.

“They didn't really have a good chemical yet for getting wild oats, which is a grass out of wheat, which is a grass. And growing a legume which is a lentil, they had a chemical that was very inexpensive and worked really well. So you go in on your wheat ground that has bad wild oats, you grow legumes or lentils, and you spray this chemical and all your wild oats are gone. And it does a really nice job. It's a really good rotation.” - Terry Farver

Like any new venture, they had to start with what they had and sort of figure it out on the fly to get established. From the initial task of production, they have expanded into direct-to-consumer lentil products. Once they started gaining some early traction it was time to increase their capacity so they could meet the demand they were creating. They also increased the number of products they offered. The Farvers estimate that in a normal year, they're still selling less than 10% of their lentil production through this food business, but it's working and it's growing. Shawna said there still is one main challenge though, that she sees for other aspiring value added farmers out there.

“Infrastructure, I think is probably our biggest barrier. I know that there's a group working on some infrastructure particularly related to food production here in the Eastern side of the state. And I'm anxious to see what happens there. That might make things a little easier….it doesn't mean it can't be overcome. It just takes a little creativity sometimes.” - Shauna Farver

This Week on Growing Pulse Crops:

  • Meet Terry and Shauna Farver, owners of Farver Farms and developers of Lentil Crunchers.
  • Discover their journey into pulse crops and the evolution of an alternate source of income for their operation
  • Explore the pitfalls and successes they have experienced with their lentil products

Growing Pulse Crops Podcast is hosted by Tim Hammerich of the Future of Agriculture Podcast.

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About the Podcast

Growing Pulse Crops
The science and business of farming field peas, chickpeas, and lentils
This show features the latest in research, agronomy, and economics of pulse crops (peas, chickpeas, lentils, etc.).

Demand for these nutrient-dense, high-protein foods continues to grow. There is also interest from farmers to include more pulses into diverse rotations for benefits like nitrogen fixation and soil health.

But the industry continues to face challenges, and we are eager to address these head on. So if you’re a pulse grower or in any way interested in these important crops, hit subscribe and stay tuned for future episodes. We’ll be back with plenty of information about challenges pulse farmers are facing throughout the U.S. and what solutions are working.

Brought to you by the Pulse Crops Working Group with support from the North Central IPM Center and USDA NIFA.

About your host

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Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.