October 23, 2008
CANADA'S FIRST INLAND DISTRIBUTION OF GRAIN BY SAILBOAT?
On October 26, a fleet of sailboats is expected to arrive in Nelson loaded with locally grown grains.
As if this year's launch of Canada's first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project for grain hasn't already generated enough excitement; it now gets even better!
On October 24, a fleet of sailboats will depart Nelson enroute to the southern shores of Kootenay Lake. Once at Kuskanook Harbour, a team of Creston Valley farmers and local food advocates will load sacks of grain onto the boats for shipment to Nelson. In the sacks will be Red Fife Wheat, Khorasan Wheat, Hard Spring Wheat, Spelt and Oats.
The grain is the product of the first season of an innovative model of creating a local grain economy in the southern interior of British Columbia. In early 2008, 180 members committed one-hundred dollars each to receive one-hundred pounds of grain come harvest. A Nelson bakery also committed to two-thousand pounds.
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 Nelson-Creston Grain CSA is a promising sign that alternatives are indeed possible.
"My initial motivation to have grain grown locally was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions," says CSA founder and West Kootenay EcoSociety's Matt Lowe. "I never imagined that there were farmers out there eager to grow grains with horses instead of tractors and I certainly had never thought that anyone would propose to transport the grains via sailboat!"
Jay Blackmore is one of the many sailors with the Kootenay Lake Sailing Association who plans to be loading his boat with grains this weekend. "I was inspired by the local grain project the moment I heard about it," says Blackmore. "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."
This latest development in the evolution of the CSA helps capture just how impactful the move towards more localized food systems can be in bringing a community of people together.
Since Matt Lowe conceived the idea in the summer of 2007, local food advocates have come forward alongside three farming families, a local bakery, and two millers. There are also many bakeries, restaurants and grocery stores who are all expressing an eager interest to become involved next season. We now find the transportation of the grain finding its place within this local food system.
Perhaps the most exciting impact of this new chapter is that everyone is coming forward simply out of the passion to see a thriving local food system. No one is doing this out of greed or out of an interest to make a quick dollar; this truly is a community coming together.
As the three farmers now look back on the first year of this innovative project, there is a level of excitement not often seen among farmers. With all of the middlemen taken out of the picture, the CSA has provided the farmers with such a high price per acre, that the future of farming is looking promising.
"I'm really excited about this, because I can see a potential for me hauling one of my kids home to take over that farm," says farmer Keith Huscroft. "I'm excited because maybe there's a future for my family, because if this doesn't work, I can guarantee you that as soon as they plant me, the farm is for sale, it'll be gone," adds Huscroft.
Similar to the scenario across the country, many farms in the Creston Valley are in a similar position to Huscroft's.
"They're waiting for death," says Huscroft. "All the kids are waiting for the funeral and not one of them around me is going to stay farming. The big farms are going down, and more than likely it's people from Alberta that are going to come and retire and put a horse out front."
CSA organizers expect the sailboats to be in Kuskanook Harbour, not too far north of Creston, in the early afternoon on Saturday, October 25. From there, the sailors along with their cargo of grain hope to arrive in Nelson at 5pm on Sunday, October 26.
National media have already begun to pay attention to this exciting event, including some of Canada's major agricultural publications. Perhaps this model will help share with the farming community that there are indeed alternatives to the dominant models of agriculture that are clearly not working.
Deconstructing Dinner is heard on radio stations across Canada and is available as a Podcast. More information on today's topic can be found at (www.cjly.net/deconstructingdinner/thelocalgrainrevolution.htm).
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