Final share pick-up is this weekend!

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October 12th, 2010 by Admin

This is the exciting part, folks! Over the past weekend more than half of our 2010 shares were picked up by members at our east Vancouver distribution spot. We hope that some of you have already enjoyed a batch of rolls or pumpkin pie made with this year’s Urban Grains bounty.

The fun continues this coming weekend, which will be the final chance for members to pick up shares.

Final distribution times: Friday Oct. 15, 4-8pm and Saturday Oct. 16, 10-4pm. (Check our previous email announcement for location details.)

As always, contact us if needed at

More share offers are out

May 2nd, 2010 by Admin

The second batch of share offers just went out to 150 lucky folks! Thanks to all of last year’s members who are returning for 2010.

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!


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


Sod turning


The field after turning


Spring chickees, 5 days old.


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


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.


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.


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


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


Revving up for 2010…

February 26th, 2010 by Admin

Urban Grains has been sleeping away the winter, but things have recently started moving again. Plans are coming together for the 2010 season – we are building on what we learned in our first year and already looking forward (with watering mouths) to this year’s harvest. Right now, we are gathering feedback from last year’s members to help shape this year’s operations. We can’t tell you all the details yet, but here’s a bit of a teaser…

First, we are pleased announce that we will once again be working with the amazing Jim and Diane (plus the super-kids!) of Cedar Isle Farm in Agassiz, B.C. Like last year, this year’s shares will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. 2009 members will be given priority for 2010, but we will also be expanding and opening up a number of new shares. We have already had many new sign-ups on our mailing list, but we encourage anyone who is interested to visit our About page and send us your information. We hope to be sending out the first share offers at the beginning of April, and will tell you more before that happens.

We look forward to passing on more information soon, so watch this space for news from Cedar Isle Farm, planning updates and more.

All the best from the team at Urban Grains!

Members, meet your wheat.

September 25th, 2009 by Admin

I love what this set of photos tells about our members – look at all the ages, all the types of families and individuals, all of them smiling as they receive their flour. And check out the modes of transportation! We’ve got Agassiz wheat taking rides in wheelbarrows, panniers, bike trailers, on shoulders and in buckets. Way to make it work, guys. Big thanks, again, to all who helped haul flour for others. Your generosity is much appreciated.

If you haven’t yet seen it, check out the new Recipes page on our site, and submit your favorite to share.

Distribution success, posts to watch for and a new ‘Recipes’ page

September 23rd, 2009 by Admin

We are so excited to have reached this point – last Saturday the first wave of CSA shares were picked up by this year’s members. Many thanks to UBC Farm, who generously agreed to act as the distribution site. There are still roughly 70 shares to be picked up, and this Saturday should see the majority of those going home with the rest of our members.

In blog news: Keep your eyes peeled for two posts in the coming days. First, Chris took photos of the first pick-up excitement, which we’ll be sharing soon. We’ll also be posting some advice on how best to store your flour, as requested by many of you.

And if you’ve got any questions about using that flour… It’s great to see the recipes and cookbook suggestions flowing in through the comments, and to see all of the discussion happening. In order to give you easier access to these member submissions, I’ve created a “Recipes” page on the Urban Grains site. You can access it by clicking the “Recipes” link on the page header, or by clicking here. If you’d like to add a recipe or resource (which I encourage!) submit it as an email to, and I will move it up to the main text area.

Protected: Members only: share pick-up coordination

September 15th, 2009 by Admin

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Urban Grains Update, August 10

August 10th, 2009 by Admin

The following letter was recently sent to all subscribers to the Urban Grains mailing list.

Hello local eaters,

Although our blog posts have largely replaced the monthly e-mail updates sent to shareholders and mailing list subscribers, we thought that a number of recent developments with the CSA warranted another e-mail update. Before I begin with the newsletter, however, I’d like to make an announcement regarding the future administration of Urban Grains.

Back in May, Ayla and I wrote of our visit to Halifax on the Urban Grains blog. One of the reasons for our visit was to explore the possibility of relocating there. After many months of consideration, we are now in the process of doing just that. At the time we first conceived of Urban Grains, the prospect of moving to Halifax was already on our minds, so we’ve gone to great lengths from the outset of the program to ensure that it will continue on without us. Not only have we worked to lay as much of a foundation for Urban Grains as possible prior to our departure, our partnership with Farm Folk / City Folk means that the resources, experience and expertise of their organization (well beyond anything that we can bring to the table) guarantees a future for the CSA.

When Urban Grains was still in its infancy last year, we were presented with two choices, neither of which were very palatable: 1) work to address a need for local grain in Vancouver knowing that, if something came of our efforts, we may have to leave it all behind or 2) simply do nothing. Given our shared passion for food and a concern for its many attendant issues (of which access to locally grown foods is certainly one), the latter option seemed unacceptable. While we’re sad to distance ourselves from a project which is only now beginning to realize its potential, we can at least rest easy knowing that Urban Grains will be left in good hands.

Ayla and I will, of course, remain involved with the CSA, albeit from a distance. Chris Hergesheimer, one of the organizing members of Urban Grains and the grain expert for Farm Folk / City Folk, will be assuming the role of program coordinator. He’ll be responsible for most CSA correspondence and administration in the future, so you can expect to be receiving e-mail updates and notifications from him from now on. Chris will also be running the blog and has just posted a personal introduction which you can read here.

We’ve encountered many obstacles in starting this program, some of which seemed insurmountable at the time, but we’ve managed to make-do nonetheless. Thank you so much for your support. The Urban Grains CSA is, by its very nature, a community effort and we wouldn’t have made it this far if it wasn’t for your tremendous interest and enthusiasm for the project. Here’s to a future of local grain come September.

Martin + Ayla

Now, Back to Business…

The past six months have been truly amazing. What was only an idea in its early stages of conception late last year — creating the first CSA to provide local grain to people throughout Vancouver — is fast becoming a reality. If you’ve been following the updates on the Urban Grains blog, you’ll know that the grain at Cedar Isle has been progressing extremely well. While we have encountered some minor problems with rust on the winter wheat, it appears as though the great growing conditions we’ve experienced this season will more than make up for it. Of course, much work remains to be done (another month or so of growing, then harvesting, cleaning, shipping, milling and distribution) and many potential pitfalls abound (a poorly timed rain during harvest could be disastrous), but we’re finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Grain Cleaner

Each share this year came with a $10 equipment fee. Using this money, we were able to get a fantastic deal on a newly refurbished Kipp Kelly Dockage Tester from Manitoba. This small grain cleaner, while not entirely practical for cleaning enormous quantities of grain, cleans to a very high standard and helps us to overcome one of the main obstacles for local grain production in B.C. — a severe lack of infrastructure. If the grain harvested at Cedar Isle this summer is relatively free of weeds and other non-grain material, the cleaner may not actually be necessary in our first year of operation, but we can now rest easy knowing that cleaning quality will be less of a concern in the future. For pictures and video of the cleaner in action, go here.

Farm Visit

On July 19th, Urban Grains shareholders were given the opportunity to visit Cedar Isle Farm to see first-hand how their grain was progressing and picnic with their fellow CSA members. The weather was beautiful, there were hay-rides (always popular with both the young and old), a grain cleaning demonstration, lots of ice cream, and delectable blueberry tarts courtesy of Mary Mackay from Terra Breads. With nearly a hundred people in attendance, I’d say the event was a big success. Some pictures from the visit are available on the blog. I’d like to thank Jim, Diane, Hannah and Simon for making the event possible and for being such gracious hosts.

Distribution Date and Location

A number of you have contacted us to inquire when the grain will be ready for pickup. I realize that schedules are busy for many of us during the summer and a lack of certainty surrounding the grain pickup can be a major inconvenience. While I still can’t give you an exact date, I can say with relative certainty that the pickup time will be sometime in September, most likely in the first or second week. I just spoke with Jim today and he said that he is in the process of harvesting the winter wheat now and expects the rest of the grain to be ready in mid to late August, depending on the weather and the status of the grain.

As for the location, we’ve been speaking with the UBC Farm (located on campus at the University of British Columbia) and are trying to work out an arrangement whereby CSA members can drop by on certain dates to pickup their shares. Everything still remains to be finalized, but I’ll let you know as soon as more information becomes available.

Introducing Chris Hergesheimer

As I mentioned earlier, Chris will be taking over the operational and administrative side of things as program coordinator for the CSA. If you have any questions, or would simply like to say hi, you can contact him at the new Urban Grains administrative address,

That’s it for now. Make sure to check out the blog (/) for more up-to-date developments.


Martin + Ayla
Urban Grains

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!

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