Our Grain CSA is a bit of a strange duck, so there’s usually a lot of questions from people who are new to the concept. Always feel free to shoot me an email if your question is unanswered, but i’ll try to cover the basics here.

Q: Where and when will I get my grain bundle?

A: Each year varies a bit, but usually the pick-up day will be a Saturday in late-January at a Winnipeg warehouse (Saturday January 27th seems like a likely bet this year). All of the food in your bundle will be picked up at the same time, unlike veggie CSA’s which have multiple pick-up times throughout a season. Grains are remarkably shelf-stable, and will last for months (if not years…) in your pantry. There will also be an option for home delivery in Winnipeg, Stonewall, Brandon, and maybe even Kenora.

Q: I love lots of the grains offered, but can’t eat certain items. Do you have a mix-and-match option, or can I request swaps?

A: Unfortunately, we often can’t accommodate most swap requests because one of the main ways that we keep the costs low is by making the CSA as efficient and streamlined as possible. But there are a few ways to get around this. If possible, find a friend or neighbour who is also interested in eating local grains, but who can trade with you for items that you can’t use. Joining our facebook group “Winter Grain CSA” is a wonderful way to connect with like-minded eaters. Every year there are a few posts there with requests like “I don’t use oil, does anyone want to swap with me? I’d take an extra portion of beans or flour in exchange for my oil”. It’s a fun way to build community too 🙂

A second option is to wait until after our CSA is over. After the dust settles, i’ll see which items we have leftovers of, and those items will be available as individual products on our website. We do home deliveries or have items available for pick-up at the Refill Market (Notre Dame Ave) throughout the year for individual product orders. We always have oats, and usually a selection of lentils, beans, buckwheat, cornmeal and flax. Products from other on-farm-processors (like the oils, wheat flours, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, millet, etc.) will be available in limited quantities immediately after the CSA, or can usually be ordered directly from the other farms as well. Send me a quick email once the CSA is over (or sometimes a google search will find them as well) and I can get you in touch with each farmer directly.

Q: Do you have any gluten-free options?

A: Yeppers! Our oat mill is dedicated to milling gluten-free oats, so we’re keenly aware of the difficulties that people face in finding gluten free options. Each year we compile an alternative bundle which contains just the products that are safe for those with celiacs or gluten-intolerance. In addition to omitting the wheat flours, we also leave out some products that are almost entirely gluten free, but which could have a slight chance of contamination with wheat. Sometimes the french green lentils or millet falls into this category, and we swap them out for safer items. The GF grain bundle is available here.

Q: I follow a whole-foods plant-based diet. The grain bundles seem like a perfect fit…except for the oil. Can I swap out the oil?

A: Yup! I’ve been answering quite a few of these requests, so if this is you, just add a note in the order form, requesting that we swap out the oil and give an extra portion of oats, french green lentils, or pinto beans instead. Each of those products are about the equivalent value, so just choose one that you’d like an extra portion of in replace of the camelina oil.

Q: I would love to join your CSA, but I just don’t know if I can afford it. Are there any options for me?

A: Yes! Our regular pricing is always based on the cost that we pay to farmers for each product, adding on our time/labour for cleaning/milling/packaging, and a little bit extra to pay for repairs, the loan for our milling equipment, utilities, etc. We do everything we can to keep these costs within market norms, and better whenever possible! By cutting out so many layers of transportation, brokers, packagers, brands, and retailers, our grain bundles can be a really cost efficient! However, if the grain bundle is something that is outside of your budget, there are a few different options that we can offer.

The simplest option is deferred payment. Sending a few post-dated cheques or making e-transfers spread out over a few months is always fine, just write a note with your order explaining what your payment schedule will look like. For more options, we also have a limited number of shares available at $50 and $100 off the regular price. We also work with several community non-profit groups like inner-city and refugee support networks to donate full bundles to low-income families. Please see our page on “Sliding Scale Pricing” for details about our reduced rate grain bundles to see if this is the right fit for you. We don’t want to turn anyone away from accessing the best quality local and organic food!!!

Q: What’s the deal with the pick-up day? What does that look like?

A: Our pick-up day is held in a central location in Winnipeg (this year it will be at 5 Sutherland Ave., the historic “Brown and Rutherford” lumberyard and warehouse building. About a week before the pick-up day, you will be sent an email with a link to choose a time slot for picking up your grain. When you arrive, you will be given an order card with a list of all the items that you ordered. Then you’ll move from table to table, where a farmer or volunteer at each station will help you weight out and fill your jars and containers with the right amount of each grain. We will have a few trolleys available, but wagons or baskets can be helpful as you load up all of your items. Also keep an eye out in January for information about workshops or learning opportunities that will be available throughout the day!