Urban Grains CSA Shares Available for the 2011 Season!

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June 30th, 2011 by Admin

We are thrilled to be growing grain again, and excited that the 2011 wheat-growing season is well underway. Despite an unusually cool, wet spring, this year’s wheat crop was planted on time and is developing well.

Now, we invite you to join the Urban Grains CSA, and receive a delicious share of local, freshly-milled, whole grain wheat flour.

Here’s how it works: Urban Grains CSA members pay up front to receive four 5kg bags of whole grain flour, milled at Anita’s Organic Grain & Flour Mill in Chilliwack from grain grown at Cedar Isle Farm in Agassiz. This 100-mile whole grain flour is milled from the entire wheat kernel. Unlike other flours, it contains all of the nutritious germ and all of the bran of the whole grain. This year, CSA members can expect to receive flour from hard red spring wheat (suitable for bread and other baking) and soft white spring wheat (for pastry, cookies and other baking). Members are also invited to view their grain growing in the field during the popular, children-friendly farm visit … on a date in August, soon to be announced. After the harvest, members pick up their share of flour at a central Vancouver location(s) that will be announced well in advance.

We hope you will join Urban Grains CSA to support locally-grown grain and benefit from the fresh, healthy flour from the 2011 harvest. But please don’t delay. Shares normally sell out quickly.

On the registration form (download form here) you will see further details and instructions for payment. Urban Grains CSA shares are $95.00 per share. There are three options for payment – (1) cheque or money order, made out to ; or (2) direct deposit to our Vancity bank account (branch #31; account 151951; Independent Business Account) from any Vancity branch in your neighbourhood (see form for confirmation details) or (3) direct transfer from your Vancity account to ours.

Choose whichever is easiest for you. If you choose to make your payment via Vancity – online or in a branch – please be sure to note your name with the transaction and attach the details to your registration form. This helps us to match your registration payment to our deposit records.

Then simply forward your completed registration form (download form here) with payment or receipt/confirmation to “Urban Grains CSA, Cedar Isle Farm”, at the address noted on the form. Shares will be available until we fill all 250 of this season’s spots. We will send a confirmation email to alert you that your registration has reached us.

We hope you will become a member of Urban Grains CSA.

Here’s to another great Urban Grains CSA season! Stay tuned to our website as we share news of the season at the farm and upcoming events.

Cookie recipes to kick start your week

June 5th, 2011 by Admin

How about we finish off this gorgeous weekend with some sweets? Urban Grains member Meg Whetung has kindly shared two cookie recipes with us. Both came to her via Molly Wizenberg’s blog, Orangette, a delectable little corner of the internet written from Seattle, Washington (where you can also find more background on these recipes).

Meg has used Urban Grains flour in both of these recipes, which call for whole grain flours, with great results. If you’re trying either of them out, why not send us a note or photos to share your results!

Whole Wheat Sablés with Cacao Nibs

From Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies

2 cups (9 oz.) whole wheat pastry flour, OR 1 cup (4.5 oz.) all-purpose flour plus 1 scant cup (4 oz.) whole
wheat flour
14 Tbsp. (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (3 ½ oz.) sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup (about 1 ¼ oz.) roasted cacao nibs

If using the two flours, combine them in a bowl, and mix with a whisk or fork.

In a medium bowl, with a large spoon or an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar, salt, and
vanilla until smooth and creamy but not fluffy, about 1 minute (with the mixer). Scrape down the sides
of the bowl with a spatula, and add the nibs. Beat briefly to incorporate. Add the flour, and mix until
just incorporated. Scrap the dough into a mass and, if necessary, knead it a little with your hands to
make sure that the flour is completely incorporated. Form the dough into a 12-by-2-inch log. Wrap and
refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets
with parchment paper.

Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into ¼-inch-thick slices. Place the cookies at least 1 ½ inches
apart on the prepared sheet pans.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the cookies are light golden brown at the edges, rotating the pans
from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies for a minute
on the pans, then transfer them (with or without their parchment) to a rack to cool completely. Repeat
with remaining dough.

These cookies are good on the first day, but they’re best with a little age, after at least a day or two.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month.

Yield: about 48 cookies

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce

3 cups whole wheat flour (see note above)
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes (see note above)
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into ¼- and ½-inch pieces, or bittersweet chips

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets
with parchment. (If you have no parchment, you can butter the sheets.)

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, and whisk to blend.

Put the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer
on low speed, mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides
of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the
vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl, and blend on low speed until the flour is just incorporated.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the chocolate, and mix on low speed until evenly
combined. (If you have no stand mixer, you can do all of this with handheld electric beaters and/or a
large, sturdy spoon.) Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and then use your hands to turn
and gently massage the dough, making sure all the flour is absorbed.

Scoop mounds of dough about 3 tablespoons in size onto the baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches
between each cookie. (I was able to fit about 8 cookies on each sheet, staggering them in three rows.)

Bake the cookies for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are evenly
browned. Transfer the cookies, still on parchment, to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

These cookies are very good while still warm from the oven, but I find that you can taste the wheat
more – in a good way – once they’ve cooled.

Yield: about 20 cookies

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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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.

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!