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

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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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.

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.

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.

The harvest begins

August 15th, 2009 by Admin

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While working out a timeline for the CSA in the spring, we didn’t think that any of the harvest would happen this early, but all that hot weather in July really pushed things forward. Fear of rain (which was well justified) stirred Jim and family into action on the farm, and the combine was brought out of the barn, cleaned off and put to use. On August 2nd we received notice that they were finished combining the winter wheat. Jim wrote, “As for amounts … After cleaning we should have enough to meet the 9,000 lbs. needed. That’s the winter wheat alone.” Fantastic news, eh? Things are looking very good, thanks to great weather and a good judgement of the chances of rain (which could have ruined, or severely damaged, a crop at this time of year).

The only bad-ish news is that the Triticale looks like it may be difficult to harvest. Jim reported that the he plugged up his combine while leaving the field because it’s got so much more stem. We’ll update you soon on how that works out.

Enjoy the photo evidence of your grain being harvested, compliments of Jim.

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