American Grown Quinoa
Trying a new crop comes with all sorts of agronomic challenges. Imagine trying a new crop that didn’t have an existing local market. That’s what Colorado farmer Paul New attempted decades ago when he decided to start growing quinoa. A researcher had experimented with the crop on Paul’s land, and he liked the opportunity for water savings and a new market.
New… “We had a fairly successful first year in 1987, had a little quinoa. Then it really was get on the phone, start calling chefs, the health food stores, wherever we thought we could sell it and tell them the story. And before long people were like, yeah, I'll try it. And we started selling out pretty quick.”
New was excited about the response he was receiving from customers who liked the flavor, health properties, and local supply of the quinoa.
New… “But we ended up having a lot more trouble with production because all of a sudden we found that bugs like it, the wind blows it out, it's hard to control the weeds in, particularly when you don't know what you're doing. So it's taken us a few years to really iron out the production. We've also improved the seed for our area. We've spent a lot of time improving the seed, make it a little more uniform, uh, handles our climate maybe just a little better”
Decades later, and Colorado Quinoa is a popular brand on my grocery store shelves. New markets are easy to capture, but there are opportunities.