HELENA, Mont. — Two decades ago, if you had told Rex Sikveland his farmland would grow more than tenfold, it’s likely wouldn’t have believed you.
“I’m first-generation farmer; I started the farm in 2000. We started with 320 acres and we’re at 5,800 now. So yeah, I’m very proud of that,” said Rex. “Our younger son has become very, very involved in our operation. And with that, we took on more land so we can continue with our normal operations, raising our pulse crops with our rotations. We actually are able to raise more of these pulse crops – chickpeas, yellow peas and lentils – and rotate it out with our wheat so we can just transfer to each different field each year and make it work.”
It wasn’t until 2019 when Rex and his wife, Kacie, had an idea of creating a grain company thanks to a tasty cookie batch a friend created with chickpea flour. The Sikveland family farm had started incorporating chickpeas into its own production, and the wheels began spinning from there. Eventually, 41 Grains was born.
“About 12 years ago, my husband integrated yellow peas into our operation, and then from there, we’ve just kind of gone more and more. We started to do chickpeas, lentils, and various other products,” recalled Kacie. “When COVID hit, the idea started before then, but when COVID hit and we really couldn’t get some different types of flour, you couldn’t get different types of products, you couldn’t get a lot of food in our stores. That really made me go, ‘Yes, there is a segment for this. We have food, we grow food. Why are we not utilizing that food to actually feed ourselves and feed our communities and feed the people in Montana? We have vast amount of resources in Montana. Why aren’t we utilizing them to their utmost potential, keeping the profit here and keeping it local.’ So that really kind of surged in that, ‘Yes, this is something that’s going to work and I’m going to do that.’”
Today, 41 Grains offers a variety of products stemming straight from the family farm. Consumers can find everything from the chickpea flour to pancake mix, corn bread, gravy mix, and fish batter.
“Our brownies are one of our number one sellers for sure. It was probably the first product I think we came out with after the flour. It has been a big hit,” said Kacie. “After that is probably our banana bread mix. It’s not something you see every day, but everybody loves it because it’s so versatile, whether it’s just for a gift, breakfast, a snack, whatever it is. The banana bread is a top seller and people definitely come back for it.”
“I have a hard time with my favorite,” she continued. “It probably changes from day to day because I like to try new things, I’m a little adventurous. But if I really had to choose, I’d probably pick the brownie too. I’m much more of a brownie girl over a cookie girl, that’s for sure.
“Brownie for sure. Yeah,” echoed Rex.
41 Grains was recently honored with the Best in Show award during the 2023 Made in Montana Tradeshow in Helena. Rex and Kacie are proud to don the Made in Montana logo on their products, and equally proud to provide true farm-to-table offerings in their home state.
“I think it’s huge for us, especially (since) we’re farming it,” said Kacie. “We’re growing, we’re cleaning, we’re milling, we’re packaging; it’s all on us. So not only does that take a big stance for pride in our family and what we’re doing for the farm and the business, but we’re from Montana and we’re big advocates for coming together in our community, growing Montana strong. Montana has so much to offer.”
“It’s amazing how much it’s grown in that short amount of time and the support that we’ve received,” Rex added. “You know, it’s hard to get out there. That’s the big challenge is getting your name out there and getting your product out there, and it’s just unbelievable how it’s grown in that short amount of time, the support from people that have interest in it.”