Winter Grain Bundle CSA

Large scale agricultural systems don’t always “work” for farmers.  This is especially true for those trying to make a go of it on smaller areas of land, those who are experimenting with rotations that build up soil quality and nutrients without chemical applications, or who are trying out new crops.  Farmers usually need a full semi-truck load (around 40,000 pounds!!!) before a grain buyer will bother looking at it, so if a farmer harvests a smaller quantity there’s often nowhere for it to go.  Sometimes this means that perfectly good food crops are fed to livestock or left in the corner of a grain bin until the following year, and usually results in no income for the farmer who grew it.

This system also doesn’t work for consumers or for the environment.  Large scale processing means that food grown in a particular area doesn’t stay there.  In order to get milled or processed it needs to travel half-way around the country and then back again, packaged, repackaged, sold to brokers, distributors, and retailers before it makes its way to your dinner plate.

We wanted to help out in some way, and last winter we decided to give it a whirl.  We used our seed cleaning and milling facility to round up bits and pieces of “leftover” crops.  Food that is wonderfully nutritious, organically grown, and lovingly tended, but because of logistics, can’t be sold into the conventional market.   These were gathered up from around the province and cleaned (this is the process of getting rid of the weeds, straw, stones, and miscellany that comes along with harvested crops), and minimally packaged (we love re-purposing ice cream pails and mason jars to create a zero-waste food supply!).  In addition, we found a number of other grains that are grown and milled by small scale organic farmers who are adding value to their crops with on-farm processing, and these were distributed via a one-time drop-off in Winnipeg and Brandon.

We’ve called our concept a CSA, or “Community Supported Agriculture”.  You’re probably more familiar with this concept in the summer, where you buy a “share” of a small scale market garden, and then receive a weekly package of veg.  By purchasing a grain CSA share, you are making it possible for small-scale organic farmers around the province to take risks, to try new crops, new rotations, incubate value-added ventures, and know that there is a local market for what they are growing.  We will make sure that you receive fair value or better for your purchase, but we can’t commit to exact quantities until the crop round-up is complete.  If there’s only four hundred pounds of hemp seed available and 200 people sign up, you’ll all get 2 lbs.  If 400 people sign up everyone will get 1 lb of hemp seeds and we’ll add another product to fatten up the bundle.  This is essential to the meaning of Community Supported Agriculture:  eating what is locally abundant and available, reducing food waste and system inefficiencies, and connecting local farmers to the people around them.

The products in the winter grain bundles are all Manitoba grown and Certified Organic, and in our first CSA in January 2019 included the following:

French Green Lentils

Naked Oats

Quinoa

Flax

Black Turtle Beans

Yellow Peas

Wild Rice

Lambsquarter Seeds

Buckwheat Flour

Emmer Flour

Cold Pressed Sunflower Oil

Grains and pulses are all grown by variety of organic farmers around the province, including:

Adagio Acres, Crocusview Farms, Rigby Orchard Farms, Tamarack Farms, Ploughshares Community Farm, Jeremiah Evans, Harris Ridge Farm, and Deruck’s Top of the Hill Farm

A huge thanks to everyone who jumped on board and helped make this work.  Our first year was an incredible success, with over 14,000lbs of locally grown, organic food making it’s way to Manitoba homes.

If you’d like to be added to our newsletter and keep informed about the coming Winter CSA (January 2020), please follow the link below to sign up, or follow us on instagram (#adagioacres) or join our facebook group “Winter Grain CSA” for updates.  We are hoping to get an early-bird sign-up option available in October, so check back soon!

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