What lies below

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April 28th, 2010 by Admin

For those of you who like nothing better than to run your hands through the soil, this batch of pictures should be quite enjoyable. Jim sent along the following shots from his field work on April 20th.

A field of freshly seeded soft white spring wheat, a new variety for Urban Grains this year

A field of freshly seeded soft white spring wheat, a new variety for Urban Grains this year.

Rain stopped the plowing on this day, but this photo shows the rich soil Jim was turning at the time

Rain stopped the plowing on this day, but this photo shows the rich soil Jim was turning at the time.

Jim told me he hates the thought of killing worms when he's on the tractor. Here you can see evidence of their important work - tiny holes perforating the soil.

Jim told me he hates the thought of killing worms when he's on the tractor. Here you can see evidence of their important work - tiny holes perforating the soil.

The roots of this cover crop help Cedar Isle's by adding nutrients, holding it in place when the rains come, and providing a habitat for the life that builds it.

The roots of this cover crop help Cedar Isle's soil by adding nutrients, holding it in place when the rains come, and providing habitat for the life that builds it.

A block of sod that's just been turned. Healthy cover crops - grown without chemicals - are a sign of healthy soil below.

A block of sod that's just been turned. Healthy cover crops - grown without chemicals - are a sign of healthy soil below.

First share offers are out! + Farm photos from early April

April 25th, 2010 by Admin

The first batch of 2010 share offers has been sent out – 2009 members, who have priority this year, should all have received an email today. The next batch will be sent a week from now, so stay patient.

Take a look at these photos that Jim sent along from plowing at the beginning of the month. Springtime is so fine!

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Plowing a new field, to be planted with hard red spring wheat

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Sod turning

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The field after turning

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Spring chickees, 5 days old.

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Snap the duck’s nest, full of eggs

2010 Grain CSA: It’s here!

April 9th, 2010 by Admin

Wheat head bowing

Today we are delighted to be able to share  the details of this year’s CSA with you. Shares are being offered to mailing list subscribers according to the order in which they signed up, and last year’s members will be given first priority. Please note that sales are not open to the general public at this time but we are keeping a waiting list. To sign up, email us at urbangrains@ffcf.bc.ca.

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New for 2010:

  • Option to receive half or all of your grain whole and unmilled!
  • New grains in the mix!
  • More shares added!


The Details

This year there will be a total of 300 shares – 225 individual shares, and 75 shares for commercial customers (bakeries and restaurants). We are very excited to be adding the option to receive half of or your entire share as whole, un-milled grain. The option to receive all 20 kg as milled flour is still available as well.

All of the grain will be grown in Agassiz, B.C. by Jim, Diane and the kids at the beautiful Cedar Isle Farm. Roughly 100 acres in size, the farm has been organically managed for years, and is currently undergoing organic certification.

Another exciting piece of news is that Jim and Diane will be growing a few new grains this year. Along with the winter wheat, hard red spring wheat and Triticale (a non-GMO cross between wheat and rye) that we had last year, they will also be growing rye and soft white spring wheat. Everyone will receive the same grains in their share, but for now the amounts and varieties that make up your 20 kg are to be determined, based on how each planting fares throughout the season.

Processing/Distribution

After the grain has been harvested in the late summer/early fall, it will be cleaned on-site at Cedar Isle Farm, where some of it will be bagged as whole grain. The portion destined to turn into flour will be shipped to Anita’s Mill in Chilliwack for milling and bagging. It will then continue on to Vancouver for pick up by members.

We have heard your feedback that the UBC Farm was not an ideal distribution location, so we will be moving the pick up point to a more central location in Vancouver, still to be determined. Pick up times will once again be spread over two weekends in the mid-fall.

Pricing

Each 20kg share will cost $85, plus an additional $10 development fee which will go towards building grain growing infrastructure and capacity within B.C., bringing the total to $95 per share. A full $1/lb of every purchase will be paid directly to Jim and Diane, the growers. A per-pound rate like that is practically unheard of in the grain industry, and we are proud to be able to pay them a rate that makes grain growing a viable source of income.

Half shares are not available at this time. If you are unsure of your ability to fully use 20 kg of milled flour (remember, 10 kg is typically the largest size one finds in a grocery store), or if cost is prohibitive, we recommend that you split the share with another friend or family.

Also Included

Included in your CSA membership will be the opportunity to visit Cedar Isle Farm in Agassiz during the summer to meet Jim, Diane and the kids and see the grain in person. You’ll also be able to track the progress of the CSA throughout the year via periodic updates on the blog.

The CSA model & risk

CSA stands for community supported agriculture. Urban Grains uses this model because we believe it is ideal for fostering a strong consumer/producer relationship. It supports the farmer up front with capital to grow the crop, guarantees a market and helps to cultivate a local, sustainable food system.  Grain production in B.C. has fallen dramatically in the past half-century and we believe the CSA model is a way to make grain farming a viable option.

It is important to be aware that the CSA model has an inherent degree of risk built into it. As a customer paying the share cost before a finished product is delivered, an investment is being made in the entire process. It is possible that because of uncooperative weather shares will not measure a full 20 kg following a sub-par harvest. We are happy to report that last year our members received their full 20kg share, but with each year comes renewed risk.

In the event of catastrophic crop failure which left us unable to deliver shares to our members, members will be reimbursed 50% of the share cost. Jim and Diane at Cedar Isle Farm are very appreciative of the support of the Urban Grains customers, but have been clear that they could not keep full payment if they were unable to deliver the shares. The 50% that Urban Grains retains will cover administrative costs and the time already put in at the farm.

Please bear in mind that such a situation is unlikely, and that we will do everything we can to make sure you receive your grain and/or flour at the end of the season.

How to become a member

Shares are being offered to our mailing list subscribers according to the order in which they signed up, and last year’s members will be given first priority. Only those who receive a share offer via email will be eligible to become members for 2010. Your official share offer will contain detailed instructions on how to register for a membership. We will announce the start of share offers here on the blog. Last year the majority of our CSA memberships were sold within three weeks, with a few additions made later in the season.

We wish we could offer a membership to everyone who is interested but  we are still a small operation and demand is greater than what we can supply. Please note that sales are not open to the general public at this time, but we are maintaining a waiting list. To sign up, email us at urbangrains@ffcf.bc.ca.

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Thank you again for your interest in the CSA and local grain – your tremendous support is what makes Urban Grains possible.

Urban Grains is a collaboration with Farm Folk / City Folk

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Almost there…

April 2nd, 2010 by Admin

These are exciting times around Urban Grains headquarters, as we finalize details for the 2010 season. Look for news here in the next few days, including the announcement of the first share offers!