Published Jun 23 2009 by Deconstructing Dinner (via Global Public Media)
Archived Jun 23 2009

The history of Canada's first grain CSA - as told through the voices of its people

by Jon Steinman

(We recently received the the news of two more episodes in the Local Grain Revolution series from Jon Steinman of Deconstructing Dinner after a long hiatus. Since Post Carbon Institutes' Global Public Media site has had the privilege of picking up all of the previous varied and informative interviews around this ground-breaking initiative, we thought we would share the links to all of them for the EB audience.)


Khorasan Wheat 07/08Khorasan Wheat 07/08The Local Grain Revolution I (audio)
Jon Steinman, Deconstructing Dinner via Global Public Media

For most Canadians wishing to adopt a more local diet, the overwhelming rise in demand in just the past year has left a large question mark hovering over the heads of many: where is all this local food so many are demanding?

The state of farming and food production in North America has clearly evolved into such a poor state of affairs, little infrastructure and incentive remain to respond to this current demand for local product. While fruits and vegetables may be the most easily accessible local foods at farmers' markets and select grocery stores, grains are not often referred to when speaking of local food. When we start to envision what plant-based foods we're still missing out on in sufficient local quantities, we can list off wheat, oats, barley, rye, spelt, flax, hemp, corn and leguminous plants such as beans and lentils.

On this exciting broadcast, we explore the creation of a project launched by two conservation groups wishing to experiment with the creation of a local grain market in the middle of the mountains of British Columbia. Matt Lowe of Nelson's West Kootenay EcoSociety and Brenda Bruns of the Creston branch of Wildsight have teamed up with a number of farmers, processors, bakers and eaters, to see if such an idea is indeed possible.

The project will see three Creston-area farmers commit to growing three types of grain in the coming 2008 season. Two-hundred member-shares will be issued to residents of Nelson and Creston, and come harvest time, those 200 members, will hopefully receive 100 lbs of whole grains. If requested, a miller in Creston and Nelson will be on hand to turn those grains into flour or flakes. This will ensure members are only using the freshest, tastiest and most nutritious product available.


The Local Grain Revolution II (audio)

Jon Steinman, Deconstructing Dinner via Global Public Media

Since the Local Grain Revolution series first aired in March 2008, a lot has transpired as a result of that broadcast. The Nelson-Creston grain community supported agriculture (CSA) project has been mentioned in Canada's Parliament ; it was a feature in a May issue of Canada's most read national newspaper, The Globe and Mail; and people from across North America have become inspired to seek out locally grown grain.

On this exciting part II of the series, Host Jon Steinman travels along with the first CSA tour, where members and farmers met for the first time. Members were given the opportunity to see the grain that would soon become their bread, cakes or pasta.

So long as the will and effort of a community chooses to make it happen, this broadcast captures just how easily we can all work together to resurrect local food systems.



Roy Lawrence and CSA members 07/08Roy Lawrence and CSA members 07/08The Local Grain Revolution III (audio)
Jon Steinman, Deconstructing Dinner via Global Public Media

Since March 2008, The Local Grain Revolution series has been following the evolution of Canada's first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project for grain. A total of 180 members and one business from the communities of Nelson and Creston, British Columbia, are blazing a trail towards a local grain economy.

On this Part III of the series, Host Jon Steinman sits in on the July 14 meeting of the CSA steering committee with the hope that audio recordings from the meeting can help guide other communities towards launching a similar project.

Jon also visits with David Everest, who came forward in late 2007 to become the Nelson-based miller. When members receive their grain in late October, David will make himself and his mill available each week to turn member's grains into flour.

With so many people in the community coming forward to lend a hand to the formation of this local food system, perhaps the most exciting has been the group of sailors who have come forward and offered to sail the grain from the southern shores of Kootenay Lake to Nelson. This will take place between October 24-26 and will reduce the fossil fuels required to transport the grain. Perhaps this effort will lay the foundation for a fossil-fuel-free transportation corridor between the two communities. We hear from one of the sailors on this broadcast.


The Local Grain Revolution IV (audio)

Jon Steinman, Deconstructing Dinner via Global Public Media

Kootenay Harvest Revival Kootenay Harvest Revival I
On this Part IV of the series, we explore the first in a three-part series of recordings from the Kootenay Harvest Revival - an event hosted by Deconstructing Dinner, the Nelson-Creston Grain CSA and All Seasons Café. The two-day event was held to celebrate the CSA's monumental harvest of grain and to use the success of the project as a "catalyst for a local food revolution."

Day 1 of the event heard from a series of speakers who shared the history of food production in the Kootenay regions of British Columbia. By exploring what was once possible to grow and produce in the area, it was hoped that the event would inspire visions of what the soil is currently able to provide both now and into the future. Certainly the Grain CSA is one of those projects unearthing the potential of the region.

On this Part I of the Revival recordings, we pay respect to the original inhabitants of the region - the Sinixt people, who, while not agriculturalists, understood the bounty of the land more than any other human population who has inhabited the area. Also to explore is one of the first groups of white settlers to inhabit the region; the Doukhobors - a spiritual Christian sect that holds a rich history of living off the land.

The event acts as an exciting model for other communities wishing to inspire a more localized food system.

Enjoying lunch of local grains, cheese and fruit at Kuskanook harbour. 10/08Enjoying lunch of local grains, cheese and fruit at Kuskanook harbour. 10/08The Local Grain Revolution V (audio)
Jon Steinman, Deconstructing Dinner via Global Public Media

Kootenay Harvest Revival Kootenay Harvest Revival II
On this Part V of the series, we explore the second in a three-part series of recordings from the Kootenay Harvest Revival - an event hosted by Deconstructing Dinner, the Nelson-Creston Grain CSA and All Seasons Café. The two-day event was held to celebrate the CSA's monumental harvest of grain and to use the success of the project as a "catalyst for a local food revolution."

On this Part II of the Revival recordings, we hear from author and farmer Luanne Armstrong who spoke on finding one's sense of self through place. "In this day and age, we need to think about where we live, not only where we live and how we connect to it but how we look after it so it can look after us," says Luanne. She also described what the word "farmer" means to her.
Also on this broadcast; CSA farmer Keith Huscroft, actor/writer/historian Richard Rowberry and the music of Bessie Wapp.


The Local Grain Revolution VI (audio)

Jon Steinman, Deconstructing Dinner via Global Public Media

Kootenay Harvest Revival Kootenay Harvest Revival III
On Part III of the Revival recordings, we listen to Deconstructing Dinner Host Jon Steinman address the audience of 270. Moving on to day 2 of the event, we arrive at the All Seasons Café where a celebratory brunch and dinner was joined by a series of short presentations. Those presentations included CSA co-founder Matt Lowe, CSA farmer Roy Lawrence and board member of the West Kootenay EcoSociety Russell Precious, who read some passages by poet and essayist Wendell Berry.


Sailor Dave Heath and crew travelling north on Kootenay Lake enroute to Nelson. 10/08Sailor Dave Heath and crew travelling north on Kootenay Lake enroute to Nelson. 10/08The Local Grain Revolution VII (audio)
Jon Steinman, Deconstructing Dinner via Global Public Media

Sailing Grain
The project has inspired a wave of support from the communities of Nelson and Creston, including support from the Kootenay Lake Sailing Association. In September 2008, a group of sailors approached the CSA and offered to sail as much of the grain as they could from the Creston Valley to Nelson along Kootenay Lake. In less than a month, four sailboats had committed to the weekend excursion and Deconstructing Dinner's Jon Steinman joined the crew of the Kelpie so that listeners could, at the very least, take an audible part in the exciting fossil-fuel free mission.



The Local Grain Revolution VIII (audio)

Jon Steinman, Deconstructing Dinner via Global Public Media

Sourdough Waffles
Since March 2008, Deconstructing Dinner has featured The Local Grain Revolution - a series tracking the evolution of Canada's first community supported agriculture (CSA) project for grain. On this eighth episode, we listen in on a workshop hosted by a member of the CSA, Lorraine Carlstrom. Just as the project has already spawned involvement from many individuals and businesses in the region, Lorraine recognized yet another gap needing to be filled... education in the kitchen. When the 180 CSA members received their 80+lbs of whole grains in December 2008, many members were left wondering what to do with them. Lorraine stepped forward to offer classes to teach members how to use their grains. Among those offered, Deconstructing Dinner recorded one of her first... sourdough waffles.



From the website:
Using the model of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), the project's first year saw three Creston-area farmers commit to growing five types of grain. Two-hundred member shares were issued to 180 residents of Nelson and Creston and one businsess. Members have since received a little over 80lbs of whole grains, some of which were transported on Kootenay Lake by a fleet of four sailboats. Millers in Creston and Nelson are now on hand to turn those grains into flour and many members have purchased grain rollers and are enjoying tasty breakfast cereals. The access to un-milled whole grains will ensure members are only using the freshest, tastiest and most nutritious product available.

Now into its second year, the CSA has tripled in size and has issued 600 shares (450 to indivudals, and 150 to local businesses). By incorporating more businesses into the project, the project is, by extension, exploring a new model of Retail Supported Agriculture (RSA). For the coming season, the same three farmers have planted hard winter wheat, hard spring wheat, khorasan wheat, spelt, oats, Red Fife Wheat and green lentils.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Editorial Notes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can find all the original audio, text, and pictures used in this post archived at The Local Grain Revolution page on Deconstructing Dinner.

I hope that similar initiatives can be replicated and adapted around the world. I live in the Southwest region of the UK, where there isn't a lot of grain farming but there are a lot of rivers and canals that used to be major arteries of transport. Narrowboats, away! KS.

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Original article available here
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