Thanks for coming! Photos from the 2011 farm visit

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August 30th, 2011 by Admin


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What a delight it was to welcome Urban Grain members to Cedar Isle Farm on August 21st. We’d like to thank everyone who journeyed out to Agassiz and shared their enthusiasm for local grain. Here are a few of Yoshi’s photos to remember the day. Stay tuned for news of the harvest soon!

after-a-cool-wet-spring-the-wheat-is-now-maturing-fastAfter a cool, wet spring, the wheat is now maturing fast.

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Members hand-threshed some heritage wheat, and viewed one of the cleaning machines separate the wheat from the chaff.

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During the hay ride, members checked the different varieties of wheat.

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Jeff was the lucky winner of a spectacular basket of specialty flours kindly donated by Anita’s Organic Mill, where Urban Grains CSA flour is milled.

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A local bear and cub made a special guest appearance during the tour.

Thanks to Yoshi Sugiyama for all the photos!

Farm visit rescheduled – new date August 21st

August 10th, 2011 by Admin

Greetings Urban Grains CSA Members!

We have a new date for the Urban Grains CSA Farm Visit and Grain Tour… Sunday, August 21st. Again, we apologize for having to postpone this event, and really hope you can attend on the 21st.  Looking forward to seeing you!

We cordially invite you to join us for a visit to Cedar Isle Farm, hosted by Jim, Diane and their children. The main attractions are, of course, the grain plantings that are working hard this year to outgrow the weeds and mature as quickly as possible. You’ll have a chance to see the fields before the grain is harvested.

After a tour of the farm, we’ll sit down for a picnic lunch (please bring your own) and enjoy the scenery.

Driving out to Cedar Isle takes about an hour and a half if you’re coming from Vancouver centre, so please budget your morning accordingly.

When: Sunday August 21st – meet at the farm at 10:30am

Where: Cedar Isle Farm in Agassiz, B.C. (directions will be emailed to you when you RSVP)

What to bring: A picnic meal for you and your guests, water if it’s hot, a blanket for sitting on and reasonable shoes for field-walking, hat for sun etc.

How to get there: Group transportation will not be provided, but we strongly encourage car-pooling as much as possible to lessen the environmental impact of the trip, and to make sure everyone can find a space to park. We have set up a blog post for the purpose of matching up folks who need rides with drivers who have space in their car. In case you’re hesitant to provide personal information, the post is password protected, so it will only be visible to the Urban Grains community. Details are provided in an email sent to all members.

Please RSVP if you’ll be joining in and tell us how many people will be in your party. (Feel free to bring your families along, or the person who’s splitting your share, but please refrain from bringing too many guests. We will be a large enough group descending on the farm!)
We look forward to seeing you there!

– The Urban Grains Team

— Farm visit POSTPONED —

August 4th, 2011 by Admin

The Farm Visit and Grain Tour – originally scheduled for this Saturday, August 6th – has been postponed due to a family health issue.

We are very sorry for the inconvenience the change causes and greatly appreciate your understanding.

We’re looking forward to seeing you and really hope that you can make it on a new date, which will be announced soon.

Thank you, and best wishes from

Jim, Diane and the family and the Urban Grains CSA team.

2010 Farm Visit recap

August 26th, 2010 by Admin

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Under cloudy skies, but with bright spirits all around, the August 8th Cedar Isle Farm Urban Grain shareholder visit and tour was a tremendous success. It was a pleasure to welcome many of the CSA members to the farm and introduce you to Jim, Diane, Hannah and Simon – our grain growers – and to the grain itself!

A big thank you to Jim and the family for their warm hospitality and for making the day such a joy. We enjoyed the demonstration of the restored grain cleaner and learning about its fascinating history. The Tour of the Grains was tremendously informative from our hay-bale perch. We were also inspired to learn about the Cedar Isle Farm philosophy for balancing and respecting the local ecology, alongside their grain growing work. Research biologist Todd Kabaluk’s described his project on the biological control of wireworm (see: http://www4.agr.gc.ca/AAFC-AAC/display-afficher.do?id=1180620561099 or http://www.farmwest.com/index.cfm?method=pages.showPage&pageid=605) and frog biologist Monica Pearson (http://www.fvwc.ca/index.php/frog-blog-main and http://www.balance-ecological.com/) highlighted efforts to create and restore habitat for the endangered Oregon Spotted Frog.

Back at the farm, Heather Pritchard and Christopher Hergesheimer shared their passion for our Urban Grains program, describing how it fits within the FarmFolk/CityFolk network and the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) community.

Although the weather has presented some challenges so far; the recent hot, dry conditions are just what the grain needs leading up to harvest. Let’s keep our figures crossed for continued good weather.

Thanks to everyone who came out on Sunday! Stay tuned for upcoming posts regarding our harvesting and distribution plans!

In the meantime, here are a few photos from the day.

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Farm visit this weekend!

August 6th, 2010 by Admin

Members and families along for the excursion2009 CSA members at last year’s farm visit

A reminder to all our 2010 members – this Sunday, August 8th, is our visit to Cedar Isle Farm. So far we have over 75 members signed up, and we’d love to see more of you there!

Meet at the farm at 11:30am with a picnic lunch, blanket, and sturdy shoes. Remember water if it’s hot out! We’ll be touring the fields and checking in on our grain in female viagra next day delivery its late summer state. Kids and pets are welcome! This year we’ll also be joined by John MacKenzie from Anita’s Mill, a frog habitat expert from the nearby slough, and a wireworm researcher, so you can depend on there being plenty of interesting people to chat with.

All members should have received an email containing driving directions. Remember to use our carpooling post to coordinate rides and reduce the number of cars we put onto the road.

Please RSVP to urbangrains@ffcf.bc.ca if you will be joining us!

Any questions can also be directed to urbangrains@ffcf.bc.ca

Protected: Members only: carpooling coordination for farm visit

August 1st, 2010 by Admin

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A wonderful visit to the farm

July 21st, 2009 by Admin

This weekend we had the opportunity to welcome many of the CSA members out at Cedar Isle Farm as we gathered to visit the grain and check on its progress. Everything’s looking great right now – the weather has been favorable for grain this year with all the heat, and plantings which had some rust appear to have stayed healthy despite it.

Super-big thanks to Jim, Diane, Hannah and Simon – who have been a joy to work with on this project – for allowing us to run around at their home for a day.

And thanks to everyone who joined us on Sunday – we had a delightful time and were so happy to meet everyone who came out. Watch out for more posts about the visit in the next few days; for now here’s a summary of the day in photos. (You can click on each one for a larger view.) Enjoy!

Cedar Isle Farm Visit (Part II)

June 9th, 2009 by Martin

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One of the most significant hurdles we faced in starting this CSA is a lack of grain infrastructure in B.C. (both for cleaning and for milling.) While we were able to take care of the milling side of things by partnering with Anita’s Organic Flour Mill in Chilliwack, we had, until quite recently, still been lacking the capability to adequately clean our grain. Thanks to the arrival of our newly refurbished Kipp Kelly cleaner/dockage tester, however, that issue has now been resolved.

Using $10 of every share from the CSA, we were able to order this prime piece of equipment from Manitoba. It was originally intended for test purposes, so the scale of its cleaning is quite small, but it cleans to a very high standard. We did a test run with a small batch of sprouted grain leftover from last year’s crop to see how it works.

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It’s relatively simple to operate. You turn it on, adjust the knobs to determine how finely it sorts the grain, then pour the grain into the top. The different parts of the grain are then sorted into a variety of trays.

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Here’s a short video of the cleaner in action:

After the cleaner has done its work, you’re left with a pile of nice, clean grain ready for milling, while the leftovers can be fed to the chickens.

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Cedar Isle Farm Visit (Part 1)

June 3rd, 2009 by Martin

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It had been awhile since we last visited Jim in Agassiz, so we dropped by on Monday to chat and see first-hand how the grain was progressing. While it’s always a treat to visit Cedar Isle Farm, we were especially antsy to make it out there this time because 1) our new grain cleaner that we purchased with part of the CSA funds arrived 2) Jim warned us that the winter wheat is showing signs of rust (which had us worried) and 3) the weather has been so darned amazing lately that we knew the farm would look absolutely gorgeous (I think that alone is reason enough.) We have much to share from the trip, so we’re going to spread the visit over a number of posts.

First up, the grain.

Jim approached me awhile back with the possibility of getting the UBC Agriculture faculty to plant some grain test plots on his farm. The idea was to see how well certain varieties grow in Agassiz, since many of the “conventional” grain varieties grown in Canada have been bred for the much drier prairies and BC itself has a great deal of variability among its many micro-climates.  We never had time to organize a proper study with the University, but Jim went ahead and planted a few plots himself for comparison.

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Among the grains included are Marquis, Soft White Spring and Hard Red Spring (CDC Go). Just starting to make an appearance out of the ground, it’ll be interesting to see how they all fair by the end of the season.

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After examining the test plots, the first of the grain that Jim took us out to see was the Triticale.

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Compared to the winter wheat planted in the adjacent plot, it grows quite high (around chest height), which makes for a rather picturesque scene as it gently flows in the wind. We were happy to see the crop looking robust and healthy.

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By comparison, winter wheat grows much shorter. You can see the stark contrast between it on the left and the Triticale on the right.

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If you look closely, you’ll notice a yellowish tinge covering parts of the winter wheat. This is what Jim had warned us about before our visit. Commonly called “rust,” it’s a fungus that thrives in damp environments. winter wheat is particularly vulnerable for that reason because it has to overwinter. Although it shouldn’t prove disastrous, there is a chance that the crop’s yield will be significantly reduced as a result (since winter wheat is supposed to account for half of the CSA crop, this is especially worrying.) Jim said he’s hoping the good weather keeps up for most of the summer so the winter wheat can grow through it. We’ll definitely be watching it closely.

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We also checked out the fields at the opposite end of Jim’s farm where the rest of the winter wheat and the more recently planted Hard Red Spring is growing.

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All in all, I think the grain is looking pretty great. While the rust issue is certainly a bit disconcerting, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had initially feared — let’s just keep our fingers crossed for good growing weather throughout the rest of the summer.

(If you’d like to get a better sense of how the grain has progressed, check out our update from last month here.)

Stay tuned for Part 2 when we reveal the fancy new cleaning equipment purchased by the CSA.

Meeting Our Grain

March 28th, 2009 by Admin

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When Jim Grieshaber-Otto, a farmer located in Agassiz, originally contacted us in the winter about his interest in our project, we immediately began to dream of the many possibilities he might bring. In the months that have since passed, we’ve cultivated a relationship with him over e-mail and via long phone calls, learning about his farm, his family and his enthusiasm. Over the phone, we agreed that he would be the man to grow the grain that would supply Vancouver’s first locally sourced flour distribution system. And over emails, we discussed details like what exactly he would be growing, how much he’d get paid and who would mill it. Planning progressed smoothly, yet all of these decisions were made without us ever having met in person. So this Wednesday morning when Chris pulled up outside of our house to pick us up, we were eager to make the drive out to Agassiz to finally meet our wheat, and the farmer who would raise it.

Cedar Isle Farm is located in Agassiz, BC, down Highway 1 about 20 minutes past Chilliwack, or about an hour and a half’s drive from Vancouver. We lucked out and had a gorgeous day for the trip – the brightest sunshine we’ve had in weeks – which I’m inclined to take as something of a good omen. As we pulled up into their driveway, Jim and his dog Sheila welcomed us. After a quick introduction to the hens and cows, we were taken out to a field covered with 4-inch high grass.

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If you didn’t know what you were looking at, it would be easy to ignore this field. We knew, though, that in just a few months these short sprouts would yield up to a tonne of winter wheat, ready for milling.

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Back at one of his barns, Jim had set out buckets containing cleaned and uncleaned wheat for us to run our hands through, giving us a real idea of what would be harvested from those fields. We got a tour of the beautiful old equipment that serves him for most of his processing needs, including the turn of the century (the last century!) fanning mill and combine from the 1950s pictured below.

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Over a delicious lunch prepared by Jim’s wife (who apparently chastised him, “You can’t walk around the farm and cook!” before she put it in the oven that morning) we sat around the table working out details of the production and processing that will happen this summer.

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Much was discussed during the few hours we visited, and when we said goodbye we left feeling quite good about the direction we’re heading in.  After months of planning, this Urban Grains project is finally beginning to look like a reality. Soon, we’ll be emailing members of the mailing list with details on how to purchase a share.