In the 115 years since Dave Hedlin's apprentice shoemaker grandfather arrived in the “Magic Skagit” from Denmark, five generations have worked on Hedlin's Family Farm. Today, Dave and his kids and their kids, too, grow about 30 crops—many organic— on 500 acres, including 200 acres of grain we turn into some pretty amazing flour.
For Dave, farming means respecting the soil. “The soils here are in the top half of one percent worldwide,” he says. “It's a pretty remarkable place.” To protect this heritage, the Hedlins plant wheat as a beneficial rotation crop. “We used to say we grew grain for fun and occaisonal profit,” he chuckles. “If you didn't factor in the value of breaking disease cycles and putting organic matter back in the soil, it didn't make any sense.” Cairnspring Mills, he says, is changing that by creating a new farm economy that lets his family preserve their land and earn a living.
“If you take good care of your soil, you don't need near as many pesticides,” he explains. “We work really hard to be good stewards. It's a tough business. But when I take a load of wheat up to Cairnsprings, knowing that that's going to feed people is really special.”