If you’ve seen Bay State Milling’s print ad for organic ingredients, the image of Travis Freeburg driving a combine at R&K Farms is a familiar sight. R&K Farms is a source of organic wheat and spelt for Bay State Milling Company’s Platteville, Colorado, mill. They’ve been supplying the mill for 16 years going back to when the mill was known as Rocky Mountain Milling. Bay State Milling values the relationship with R&K Farms because we know the Freeburgs have a keen eye on security, traceability and sustainability—things that matter to us and our customers.
R&K Farms is a family owned and operated farm with a rich history going back almost 100 years to the original homestead. Ray and Kathy Freeburg run the operation along with their son Travis, his wife Natalie, daughter Lori and her husband Ty. Their main organic growing area in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming encompasses 40,000 acres with half that in production at any one time. The remaining 20,000 acres are fallow, or unsown, to build soil moisture for the next crop.
Bay State Milling buys everything R&K Farms grows organically. Their operation strives to be self-sufficient going as far as generating their own organic fertilizer and hauling their own grain. If bin storage is required, it takes place in a highly secure location on their property. They are meticulous about cleaning and maintaining their equipment as well as the surrounding roadways. Our supply chain is intently managed by the Freeburg family.
As you can imagine, sustainable practices are significant to any farming family. Soil health is a high priority for R&K Farms, but the geographical area can present a number of challenges. The region receives a mere 10 to 15 inches of rain per year, limiting the choices for crop rotation. R&K Farms plants millet as a rotational crop as well as to break weed and pest cycles that can be problematic to wheat production. Utilizing heavy equipment in the farming and transportation processes, the Freeburg’s are always conscious of fuel efficiencies for carbon footprint reduction and profitability. Having deep roots in the community means R&K Farms employs a number of individuals from the vicinity, especially during harvest when crews work from dawn until dusk to bring in the crop.
During the 2016 organic wheat harvest, Ray was kind enough to share farm history from 1928 providing a glimpse into the days when farming was done with horse teams & wagons–a far cry from the GPS technology, combines and semis that move today’s crops. Always striving for improvement, Ray noted, “The price for conventional wheat is the same as it was 100 years ago so farmers have to be smart about how they run their business. If you do nothing, one day you will wake up with nothing.” Sounds like a mindset to ensure the next generation of Freeburgs will supply Bay State Milling with quality organic wheat and spelt.