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Farmer Grows Chickpeas & Flax in Linn County!

Jason Russell lives and farms near Prairieburg with his wife and three kids. Jason raises pigs, sheep, feeder calves, corn, soybeans and specialty crops. This summer we are highlighting the stories of agriculture through a program called FarmChat®.

FarmChat® is a unique program that utilizes technology (Skype, Facebook, FaceTime and other software platforms) to bring the farm experience directly to families. Viewers can ask the farmers questions in real-time. Jason, Linn County Farm Bureau Board of Director, invited us to learn about how he grows chickpeas and flax in Linn County.

Jason first planted chickpeas three years ago after visiting Australia. He learned that chickpeas can be grown using similar equipment to corn and soybeans and he decided to give it a try as a way to diversify his farming business.

Chickpeas also known as Garbanzo beans are a great plant-based protein and often used for hummus and gluten free flour.

Flax seed also know as linseed has traditionally been grown for linen (fiber), but more recently has been grown for the seed. Flax is a great source of Omega-3 and today many people add flax to their diets! Flax can also be fed to livestock!

Jason planted 150 lbs of chickpea seeds per acre and 10 lbs of flax seed per acre; planting a total of 5.5 acres. Deciding to try something new this year, Jason planted the seeds using a method called polyculture.

***Polyculture is a form of agriculture in which more than one species is grown at the same time and place in imitation of the diversity of natural ecosystems (hay-alfalfa, orchard grass, etc. can be another example).

There are so many benefits to polyculture planting! Increasing diversity can help control pests and diseases and it can increase microbial activity!

Chickpeas and flax can be planted and harvested with similar equipment to corn and soybeans. Jason uses a planter with a grain drill to sow the seeds. He planted the seeds separately but in the same day. Once the plant has reached maturity, Jason uses a windrower to cut the crop. After the crop dries he runs it through the combine to separate the seed from the plant. Flax and chickpeas have a short growing season compared to corn and soybeans! The crop will be harvested before September, allowing a good window of time before harvesting corn and soybean fields.

Jason and his family direct markets the chickpeas and flax in individual bags to community members interested in the health benefits or buying local!

If you have questions about growing chickpeas or flax email and I will see what I can find out!

Follow us on Facebook at Linn County Education Outreach (@LinnCoAg) to view the video!

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