REARDAN, Wash. -- Fred Fleming stands in a field of golden wheat, surveying miles of grain as it gradually succumbs to the power of tanklike harvesters.
It’s been more than a century since his great-grandfather first drove horses across these Eastern Washington hills. Fred Wagner, whose 1888 homestead deed bears the signature of President Grover Cleveland, would not recognize the way his great-grandson makes a living -- planting with a satellite-guided seeding drill and harvesting with air-conditioned combines that can measure the average moisture in each swath of wheat.
The complexity and cost of farming have exploded in recent decades, making it impossible for many farmers to keep up.
In response, Fleming's farm and 32 other Northwest farms have banded together, calling themselves Shepherd’s Grain, to capitalize on the growing interest in locally produced food.
They market their flour directly to area bakeries and others, bypassing the global commodity market’s unpredictable prices.
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