As a third-generation farmer, B.Jay Heider has spent his entire life with his hands and heart planted in the fragile soil surrounding the small town of Lind, WA. Farming isn’t just a job, it’s a lifestyle and his way of honoring the past. He’ll be the first to tell you he’s a sentimental guy.
“I really enjoyed farming with my dad and by myself. I enjoy the solitude,” said B.Jay.
With just 9 inches of rain annually, Lind is an ideal location to grow soft white winter wheat. Turns out it’s also a great place to harvest solar rays, too. About a year and a half ago, B.Jay leased 204 acres of barren farmland to Strata Solar to build the largest solar farm in the state. The farm will power Avista’s Solar Select program. Under this program, commercial customers can buy renewable energy to meet sustainability goals.
“I think it’s cool. It’s been good for the town,” he added.
The lease, combined with the value of his farmland and his sister’s land, will generate money. B.Jay says he plans to put most of the money into a trust, earmarked for college and trade school scholarships. B.Jay and his wife never had kids. This is their way of helping out local kids who never want to stop learning.
The scholarship will be named after his grandpa, Ernest and grandma, Emma. After all, he says they did all the work- farming the land with horses and getting by on just pennies.
Like any seasoned farmer, B.Jay is planning ahead. When he passes, the money will be available for students. Although, he may consider making the scholarship available sooner than that.
Even though soft white winter wheat is in his blood, B.Jay is now planting dreams in the hearts of children around the region.
“I’m not going to spend all that money, so I might as well give back to the community,” he added.