2014 Spring Update

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May 19th, 2014 by Jim

Happy Spring
And welcome to the 2014 season of Urban Grains CSA!

Welcome new members! Welcome back previous members! We hope you have enjoyed your winter and early spring baking, and that you’re looking forward to the year ahead.

Another great season has begun!

So far it’s been a decent spring. Long stretches of cool wet weather were punctuated by warm and dry stretches in March, early April, and again in late April. These allowed us sufficient time to manure and prepare the fields and get the spring crops sown. While later than usual, the crops germinated well and now look quite good. They should grow vigorously once the steady warm sunny weather arrives. Together, we can be optimistic for the year ahead.

It’s a delicious time of year. Tree swallows swoop and turn over the slough. Newly-arrived barn swallows are busy building nests. A female wood duck has taken up in the box across the road, and we think the barn owls are nurturing young in the barn. When the sun shines brightly on a profusion of Fraser Valley foliage, the whole world appears to vibrate with green, and the grain could scarcely be happier.

What’s growing this year?

Hard red spring wheat. As in previous years, this will be our main crop. We planted some in mid-April (see above photo), and more at the very end of April, using mostly seed saved from previous years (variety: CDC Go). We’re hoping that higher soil nutrient levels and a good season will lead to higher yields of this excellent bread wheat.

Soft white spring wheat. Members will still be able to choose soft white spring wheat as an option in their 2014 share on a first-come-first-served basis. The 2013 crop was so good that we reserved some kernels for milling this autumn, allowing us the flexibility to try out some new crops for the CSA. We’ve really been enjoying this stored grain (variety: AC Andrew) in our own home baking, and we’ll be sure to plant it again in 2015.

Rye! Many of you have been politely asking about rye – for use in sourdoughs, as a flavor enhancer for your breads and for other baking. Fortunately, good weather followed the harvest last year, so there was time to plant rye in late September. After hunkering down as seedlings, the rye is now flourishing, and we’re hoping for an excellent crop.

Hulless oats? We’re delighted to finally have been able to obtain hulless oat seed for Urban Grains CSA … from Ontario and Quebec. A unique product of Canadian traditional plant breeding, this oat doesn’t need to be dehulled before cooking (like rice), flattening (for rolled oats), or milling (as flour). We won’t have large amounts available this experimental year, but it’s growing well and we hope to offer at least a sample for you to try. We’ll send more info about the development and use of this new crop soon.

Specialty crops. Thanks to your continuing interest and encouragement, we’re continuing to multiply our stocks of heritage grain, and are also experimenting with some new types. We’re excited about these and look forward to showing them to you during the farm visit!

2014 Memberships? We will be posting and sending you a 2014 registration form very soon. Please keep an eye out for it.

Thank you again for your interest and participation in Urban Grains CSA.
You help make this wonderful co-operative venture possible.
From all of us at Urban Grains, Happy Spring!
Jim