Spelt is a close relative of wheat and was an important crop in Europe from the Bronze Age to medieval times. Spelt was introduced to the United States in about 1890, exactly the period at which Howell Farm’s historical interpretation begins. So a farmer planting spelt at Howell Farm in 1890 likely would have been considered an innovator. Or at least an experimenter.
What spelt production there was in the United States would eventually be replaced by bread wheat. Not only did wheat offer higher yields than spelt, it also proved easier to thresh. (Spelt has a closer-fitting husk.) Of late, however, spelt has been making a modest comeback, in large part because of the health food movement as well as the sustainable agriculture movement. Spelt seems to cause less problems for some people who are allergic to wheat and also requires less fertilizer to grow than wheat.
At Howell Farm, the spelt we produce will be fed to our livestock, hull included. According to Farmer Gary, having that hull around the grain is actually good for horses, because it helps slow down the digestion process. The spelt, which grows taller than modern wheat, also yields a good harvest of straw, which we use for animal bedding.