Harvest update / Hull-less oats / CSA member starting a micro bakery

September 26th, 2014 by Cedar Isle Farm


Happy September! The sky is clearer, nights are cooler, and stars are brighter. We’re welcoming the change of season here at Cedar Isle Farm, and making the most of a good stretch of sunny days.
In non-grain news, the mama cat has had a second batch of kittens (free to good homes) and the ducks have done their best to eat every slug on the farm. The sparrows have eaten well, the swallows have hatched more young than we can count, and we hear the young barn owls from time to time instead of every night.
Meanwhile, all of the grains have been harvested and the fields are in the midst of being ploughed and seeded: plans for the coming year have been drawn up and we even passed, with flying colours, our annual inspection from BCARA (our organic certifier). It’s been a great season for the farm, and we’re looking forward to sharing our stories and crops with you!

Harvest Update
Despite weedy patches in some of the fields and a few lodged (fallen over) crops, the warm and dry weather in August allowed us to harvest some mighty-fine grain. Everything has been cleaned to remove weed seeds and has been nicely dried. Most of it is  waiting patiently, though with some anticipation (as are we, to be honest), to be sent to Anita’s Organic Mill for milling and packaging. The distribution date will be announced soon!

Hull-less Oats
Our farm grew a new crop this season: hull-less oats. This variety of oats was developed in Canada and marketed as “Rice of Prairies” due to a culinary character similar to rice (more information about the oats in this article from Georgia Straight).  You can look forward to hearing more about these oats in the future… for now, let us just say: they’re delicious! 🙂

Want to bake, but no time?
Allow us to introduce you to Anne, one of our Vancouver-based CSA members, who’s starting a micro-bakery.

Hi! I’m Anne, baker and owner of Companion BakeHouse, a community supported MicroBakery in North Burnaby.  Recently I started using Cedar Isle Farm wheat and rye in my breads and my customers and I are loving it. My bread is Real Bread – it contains no processing aids, dough improvers, artificial flavours or other chemical additives.  I use a starter culture, so I don’t even use commercial yeast. This is the bread you’d be making for yourself and your family if you had the time to do so.  Some of my customers call it “better than bakery quality” bread.
I am hoping to help support Cedar Isle Farm by selling bread made with their grains.  If you appreciate the flavour and nutrients that are produced when locally grown ingredients are combined with traditional slow dough development methods, and if you’d like to develop a relationship with your baker in the same way you’ve developed a relationship with your farmer, then contact me at www.facebook.com/companionbakehouse

The grain heads are filling!

July 16th, 2013 by Cedar Isle Farm

The glow of the setting sun on Mt. Cheam is a backdrop for maturing heads of Urban Grains CSA wheat 

 

Another wonderful growing day ends with the sun setting on Bear Mountain over a field of Urban Grains CSA bread wheat.

 

Lush.

July 12th, 2011 by Admin

Green, green, green. This is what Cedar Isle looks like now.memo0085

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Evidence of April & May happenings

May 26th, 2011 by Admin

Jim and Diane have shared some progress photos over the past few months, and it’s inspiring to see the fields taking shape and starting to green up…

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A new season starts with plowing.

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Last year’s grass and clover is turned over by the plow.

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Jim reports that he sometimes puts the tractor on automatic pilot and grabs a snack.

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After smoothing out the plowed ground, the wheat seeds are planted.

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Originally seeded on May 4, this is how one field looked about a week and a half later, on May 16. The variety growing here is “Superb”, new at Cedar Isle.

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CDC Go is growing in this field, and in the above photo you can also see how Jim generally seeds in two passes, so that the rows cross each other diagonally. This helps minimize the spacing between plants, which reduces the suitable spaces available for weeds.

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The soft wheat in the field above was seeded in early April, when Jim finally had some sunny days to work with.

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Straw, baled after last year’s grain harvest, is ready for delivery to a Vancouver community garden. The organic straw will be used to mulch between rows of vegetables.

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Newly hatched chicks are a sure sign of spring!

2011, on the move!

May 20th, 2011 by Admin

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Happy Spring! The 2011 Urban Grains season has begun, and we are thrilled to be growing grain again and back in touch with our shareholders.

As you read this, the tiny wheat seedlings you see pictured below are storing up energy from the (much-awaited!) sun, packing it away and growing, growing, growing.

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Sign-ups for this year’s membership have also begun. Here’s where we are at in the process of offering shares:

– If you were a shareholder last year… 2010 shareholders were first in line for this year’s shares, and completed applications have been flowing in. Thank you to all of you who have re-joined for 2011! If you haven’t sent your application yet, please do so right away, as shares are now being offered to people on last year’s waiting list, and will soon be opened to the general public. We wouldn’t want any disappointed existing members.

– If you are on the waiting list… Congratulations! Shares are now open for you, and we’d like to welcome you to Urban Grains. Please complete the application form that will be emailed to you and send it back to the farm as soon as possible.

– Are you considering joining Urban Grains for the first timeThank you for your interest – we’d love to have you! After people on last year’s waiting list have had an opportunity to join, any remaining 2011 Urban Grains shares will be offered to you and other new prospective members. Please email to indicate your interest urbangrains@gmail.com and we’ll put you on the 2011 waiting list and get back to you soon.

Thanks to everyone who has registered for this coming season’s harvest – we are already looking forward to the fall, and the bounty we’ll share.

Here’s to another great season,
The Urban Grains Team

Post harvest, on the farm

November 8th, 2010 by Admin

The 2010 shares have been delivered, but there’s still plenty going on at Cedar Isle Farm…

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Oh, hey there.

Cows are out pasturing…

In the organic system used at Cedar Isle Farm, the grain contains an ‘understory’ of clover, grass and other plants, which thrive after the grain is harvested in the late summer.

In late October — at the same time Urban Grain members were picking up their flour — the Angus beef cattle were taking advantage of the ‘extra pasture’ that grew after the hard red spring wheat was harvested.

No additional time, money or energy was expended to plant this greenery. It simply grew after harvest. Not only does it  provide extra forage for the cows, it will also provide the field protection against erosion in the face of fierce winds that frequently buffet the eastern Fraser Valley in the winter.

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Equipment needs preventative maintenance… adjustments are made before putting away the harvesting equipment for the winter.

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Simon and Pumpkin take a break from helping to clean and service the combine before winter storage.

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Local mechanics Pete den Boer and Anton Kersten (from Farm Diesel Service in Chilliwack) re-worked the combine’s electrical system and made other improvements.

Winter cereals fields are transitioned back to grass and clover…

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Combining the (late) fall rye crop.

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In mid-September, before the other grains have been harvested (and before cleaning, milling and distribution), the fall rye field is plowed. This is the initial step in preparing the field for seeding grass-clover seed — the next step in its rotation. Next year, this field will produce grass-clover silage and hay; it’ll be several years before it is returned to cereal production.

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And one month later, mid October, the newly-sown grass and clover seeds have sprouted and the plants have started to put on some decent growth, which will allow them to survive the winter and be ready for a burst of growth next spring…

The grain cleaning machines of Cedar Isle Farm

October 1st, 2010 by Admin


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Meet the Clipper. She was built in the 1920s and needed quite a bit of work done before she was in working order. As the largest machine on the farm, the Clipper is able to move the most grain per hour; having her around greatly speeds up the job.

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In this shot you can see where Jim has rigged up pipes to catch the chaff and weed seeds that flow out of spouts on the side of the Clipper.

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A series of screens with differently shaped holes each filter out particular types of unwanted material. One with round holes (marked RH in the photo above) filters out weed seeds. A slotted tray removes the chaff.

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The Hero is fed from a large tote bag, which hangs from the tractor bucket (outside the frame). This avoids the need for manual feeding by bucket load, but still requires a watchful eye.

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A modern addition: plywood has been added to reinforce the Clipper's aging hopper.

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Finally! Clean seed lands in the tote after being fed through the machine. This is the product which leaves the farm and makes it way home to you.

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But what of all that "waste" we filtered out of the original harvest? Not waste at all - this will be used to feed chickens over the winter.

Harvest update – late September

September 22nd, 2010 by Admin

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Slowly but surely, the grain is coming. Rainy weather in August and September and an overall slower growing season meant that fields were harvested a good deal later than in 2009. Luckily, thanks to Jim, Diane and the kids at Cedar Isle, most of the hard work is now done, and we anticipate delivering your grain for milling in about a week’s time. Anita’s Organics will again be our milling partner this year, and we are looking forward to working with them.

More about this year’s share

Your 20kg share will arrive as four 5kg bags this year, rather than last year’s larger bags. We hope that this smaller format will make transportation, storage, sharing and trading easier for everyone. As we mentioned before, the harvest is still making its way in out of the fields – this means that the final share breakdown is yet to be determined. We’ll let you know as soon as we do!

Distribution

Our goal is to host this year’s distribution over the Thanksgiving weekend (October 9, 10, 11). If all goes as planned, you could be using Urban Grains flour to bake your Thanksgiving pies. Distribution options have been narrowed down to two sites in east Vancouver; we will alert you as soon as a decision is reached and location and times are confirmed. Please stay tuned, and as always feel free to contact us at urbangrains@ffcf.bc.ca.

Thanks!

In our second year of operation, we at Urban Grains are more thankful than ever for your continued support. By being a part of our CSA, you are making a significant difference in closing the gap between grower and consumer, providing the necessary support and capital for the growing season, and participating in a delicious enterprise. We are inspired by your enthusiasm!

We’ll be back soon with more details. In the meantime, prepare your homes for the arrival of Urban Grains!

Sunrise at Cedar Isle

August 4th, 2010 by Admin

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Cedar Isle Photo Album: consequences of a long, cold, wet stretch

July 10th, 2010 by Admin

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A ray of hope!

It’s been wet here, folks. I’m sure that everyone who has lived through the past few months in the Lower Mainland can sympathize with our grain in the feeling that we’ve all had our feet wet for far too long.

Last year, which was Urban Grains’ first season of operation, we were blessed  with exceptionally hot and dry conditions, basically ideal for growing grain. Perhaps that was the universe’s way of encouraging this little endeavour. This year is different though, and it seems that even if we were handed an easy pass last season, we are being challenged in the current one.

Jim has just sent along these photos, which show the damage that the crops have suffered, but also some encouraging progress.

Below, you can see a head of Triticale looking fat and fine, in a photo that was taken on the first truly sunny day in months. As a fall-planted crop, it has seen a hard winter and has come out the other side looking battered, but still going. In the background is Mt. Cheam, still capped by clouds.

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This next shot was taken in the winter wheat field. Again, the w.w. has struggled all winter, first with a long bout of leaf rust, and later with the hardships of the cool, wet spring.

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The grain you see below is soft white spring wheat, planted just before the rainy stretch of the early summer. Jim thinks that it should mature well if we get some good heat now in the late summer.

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Likewise, the hard red spring wheat has put on a lot of growth and now has ample  stored up to make the most of the hot, sunny weather.

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Below is a field containing two different hard red spring wheat varieties. A variety dating back to 1969 (to the left of the photo) is distinct from its bearded modern counterpart (centre and right of photo).  With continued good weather, both varieties should make excellent wheat for milling.

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Here now is a head of each of the grains we discussed in the photo above. On the left is Neepawa, released as a new variety in 1969, which was common across the prairies in the 1970s. Seed was obtained from organic grower Norbert Kratchmer in Saskatchewan specifically to trial in the Fraser Valley for Urban Grains.

On the right is the more recent (bearded) variety CDC Go, which was the main variety grown for Urban Grains last year.

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So that’s it for now. Lots of sogginess, but lots of growth, too. And a positive outlook for the next few months. Jim sounds extremely relieved to be coming out of the rain clouds and into the real heat of summer. And I must admit, I am with him.

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