Thanks for coming! Photos from the 2011 farm visit

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!

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!

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!

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.

July Event: Cereal Grains Open House Field Day in Delta

July 10th, 2010 by Admin

Details of the Urban Grains Farm Visit will be announced soon. If you’re interested in spending some time in the fields in the meantime, consider checking out this open house event in Delta!

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JOIN the 2010 Delta Farmers - UBC Land and Food Systems cereal grains variety trials open house field days

On display 11 varieties of spring barley, 2 types of spring oats, 14 winter wheat and 12 spring wheat varieties sourced from UK, France, Ontario, Quebec, Prairies, Maritimes, Michigan, Indiana, and Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon and Idaho) in side-by-side field trials.

DATES & TIMES: Friday, July 16th from 1-4 pm and Saturday, July 17th from 9am till noon

DIRECTIONS: The wheat field is on the Montgomery home/farm at 3010 River Road West, Ladner. From Ladner, head west along River Road West, continue past the Westham Island Bridge to the Montgomery Farm- near Brunswick Point.and follow the signs at the Montgomery farm out to the variety trials fields.

Any questions beforehand:

Wayne Temple wtemple@interchange.ubc.ca (604) 327-6487 or (604) 351-7164 cell

DeLisa Lewis (604) 731-0294 delisa@interchange.ubc.ca

Green, green grains

June 3rd, 2010 by Admin

Gorgeous progress shots from Cedar Isle, sent along by Jim the other day.

In this first one you can see three different winter varieties (left, centre and right, discernible by slight color variation.) There’s also a bit of “lodging” visible in the distance, where rain and/or wind has knocked down some of the shafts. This makes machine harvest difficult, so is not ideal, but I believe it can rectify itself with time.

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Here, a close up of one of the above varieties; this is the winter Triticale.

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Below is a field of winter rye, some of which has recently been cut to save as silage for the cattle kept by Cedar Isle Farm and their neighbours.

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And here’s a closer shot of that same winter rye; you get a good view of the seed heads here, which have already formed.

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This is a patch of winter wheat that has been affected by rust, which you can tell by the yellowing of the leaves.

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Close up of the rusted leaves:

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Now, onto the spring-planted varieties which were put in much more recently. This first one is a soft white spring wheat. It will be more of a pastry/cake/cookie flour when it ends up at our members’ homes, due to the low gluten content.

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Next up we have two varieties of hard red spring wheat, side by side. These guys have higher gluten content, and will therefore be better bread flours. As you can see, the spring-planted varieties are much farther behind the overwintering fields in terms of growth, but they should catch up with some summer sun.two-varieties-of-hard-red-spring-wheat

This last shot is of a trial plot where Jim is seeding some older heritage grains. These won’t end up in the CSA packages, but we’ll keep you informed if anything interesting comes of them.

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What lies below

April 28th, 2010 by Admin

For those of you who like nothing better than to run your hands through the soil, this batch of pictures should be quite enjoyable. Jim sent along the following shots from his field work on April 20th.

A field of freshly seeded soft white spring wheat, a new variety for Urban Grains this year

A field of freshly seeded soft white spring wheat, a new variety for Urban Grains this year.

Rain stopped the plowing on this day, but this photo shows the rich soil Jim was turning at the time

Rain stopped the plowing on this day, but this photo shows the rich soil Jim was turning at the time.

Jim told me he hates the thought of killing worms when he's on the tractor. Here you can see evidence of their important work - tiny holes perforating the soil.

Jim told me he hates the thought of killing worms when he's on the tractor. Here you can see evidence of their important work - tiny holes perforating the soil.

The roots of this cover crop help Cedar Isle's by adding nutrients, holding it in place when the rains come, and providing a habitat for the life that builds it.

The roots of this cover crop help Cedar Isle's soil by adding nutrients, holding it in place when the rains come, and providing habitat for the life that builds it.

A block of sod that's just been turned. Healthy cover crops - grown without chemicals - are a sign of healthy soil below.

A block of sod that's just been turned. Healthy cover crops - grown without chemicals - are a sign of healthy soil below.

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!

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

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Sod turning

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The field after turning

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Spring chickees, 5 days old.

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Snap the duck’s nest, full of eggs

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