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October 12, 2009

 

Deconstructing Dinner

 

More Grain to be Transported by Sailboats in Project's Year Two

A fleet of 12 sailboats will ply the waters of Kootenay Lake this weekend and transport 12,000lbs of locally-grown grains.

 

Jon Steinman

 

When Canada's first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project for grain generated international attention last year, it was unexpected that some of that monumental harvest from the Creston Valley of British Columbia would be transported to shareholders by sailboat!

 

In October 2008, a small fleet of four sailboats transported 5,000lbs of grain along Kootenay Lake - one of the province's largest inland bodies of water. Those who participated were providing a practical response to the challenges of oil dependency and climate change. The three-day journey was a huge success and this year the fleet will now triple in size. "There are at least 12 boats committed to transporting the grains this year," says Matt Lowe, co-founder of the Kootenay Grain CSA.

 

CSAs are an innovative model increasing in popularity as a way to directly link eaters with their farmers and assure the farmers a secure market and a fair wage. The Kootenay Grain CSA is Canada's first for grain and inspired another similar project to form this year in the Vancouver area that has too successfully harvested their first crop.

 

At the beginning of the season, residents in the Kootenay region of the province invested $125 into a share worth 100lbs of five grains. Additional shares were offered for other grains including legumes such as green lentils. With 200 shares issued in year one, the CSA went on to triple in size in year two with 450 shares being issued to individuals and 150 shares to eight businesses. As for the local economic impact? The project successfully retained over $80,000 within the local economy that would have otherwise left the region and has provided secondary employment to a number of other individuals and businesses who provide either milling services or hands-on workshops for using whole grains in the kitchen

 

The volunteer involvement of the Kootenay Lake Sailing Association (KLSA) to transport some of the grain is also a testament to the community development that the CSA has helped foster. "I was inspired by the local grain project the moment I heard about it," says Jay Blackmore of KLSA. "As someone who loves to sail for pleasure, I immediately saw an opportunity to combine pleasure with purpose and lend my skills and resources to this project. We're trying to demonstrate a fossil-fuel free form of transportation that can help us kick our oil addiction."

 

At a time of immense global challenges; skyrocketing prices of fuel, uncertain supplies of oil, a farm-income crisis, climate change, food safety concerns and a decline in the nutritional composition of our food supply, the Kootenay Grain CSA and its fleet of sailboats is a promising sign that alternatives are indeed possible.

 

CSA organizers expect the sailboats to be in Kuskanook Harbour (north of Sirdar) in the morning of Saturday, October 17. From there, the sailors along with their cargo of grain hope to arrive in Nelson at 5pm on Sunday, October 18 at the municipal docks at the Prestige Lakeside Resort.

 

The 2008 journey ended on an exciting note with over 50 people of all ages filling Nelson's municipal docks to help unload the grain from the boats. The CSA is encouraging the community to come out again and celebrate the arrival of the sailors and grain and take part in what is becoming an annual cultural event.

 

Check out audio, maps and photos of last year's trip on the Deconstructing Dinner web site at www.cjly.net/deconstructingdinner/thelocalgrainrevolution.htm

 

Jon Steinman is the producer/host of Deconstructing Dinner - a weekly radio show heard on radio stations around the world and is available as a Podcast. Learn more at www.deconstructingdinner.com

 

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