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Deconstructing Dinner: Reconstructing Our Food System
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The Local Grain Revolution

For most Canadians wishing to adopt a more local diet, the overwhelming rise in demand in the past few years 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 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 imagine which locally grown plant-based foods are not accessible in sufficient quantities, we can list off wheat, oats, barley, rye, spelt, flax, hemp, corn, and leguminous plants such as beans and lentils.

On this exciting series, we explore the evolution of a project that is seeking to establish a viable local grain market within the mountains of British Columbia. Matt Lowe of Nelson's West Kootenay EcoSociety and Brenda Bruns of the Creston branch of Wildsight teamed up in late 2007 with a number of farmers, processors, bakers and eaters, to see if such an idea is indeed possible.

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 received a little over 80lbs of whole grains come harvest, some of which were transported on Kootenay Lake by a fleet of four sailboats! Millers in Creston and Nelson have been on hand to turn those grains into flour and many members have purchased grain rollers and are enjoying fresh breakfast cereal. 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 individuals, and 150 to local businesses). By incorporating more businesess 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.

Past Broadcasts


November 11 - "The Local Grain Revolution X (Year 3 & Lopez Island Grain Project)"
Roy Lawrence, Joanne Gailius, O.J. Lougheed, Nancy Crowell, Kathryn Thomas, Rhea Miller


October 22 - "The Local Grain Revolution XI (Sailing Grain Year 2)"
Matt Lowe and others

September 3 - "The Local Grain Revolution X (Retail Supported Agriculture? / Sprouting Grain)"
Lorraine Carlstrom, Matt Lowe, Brenda Bruns, Abra Brynne, Drew and Joanne Gailius, Keith Huscroft, Roy Lawrence, Wayne Harris, Jenny Truscott and others

August 20 - "The Local Grain Revolution IX"
Matt Lowe, Brenda Bruns, Abra Brynne, Drew and Joanne Gailius, Keith Huscroft, Roy Lawrence, Wayne Harris and others

June 11 - "The Local Grain Revolution VIII (Sourdough Waffles)"
Lorraine Carlstrom

March 5 - "The Local Grain Revolution VII - Sailing Grain"
Matt Lowe, David Oosthuizen, Keith Huscroft, Drew Gailius, Cecile Andrews, Jay Blackmore, Roy Plummer, Jon Steinman, Earl Hamilton and more


November 20 - "Kootenay Harvest Revival III (The Local Grain Revolution VI)"
Roy Lawrence, Russell Precious, Matt Lowe, Earl Hamilton, Jon Steinman

November 13 - "Kootenay Harvest Revival II (The Local Grain Revolution V)"
Luanne Armstrong, Keith Huscroft, Richard Rowberry, Bessie Wapp, Russell Precious

November 6 - "Kootenay Harvest Revival I (The Local Grain Revolution IV)"
Eileen Delehanty-Pearkes, JJ Verigin, Russell Precious, Bessie Wapp

October 16 - "The Local Grain Revolution III"
David Everest, Jay Blackmore, Keith Huscroft, Abra Brynne, Jenny Truscott, Cindy Olivas, Gail Southall, Brenda Bruns, Drew Gailius, Matt Lowe, Donna Carlyle, Roy Lawrence

September 11 - "The Local Grain Revolution II"
Matt Lowe, Roy Lawrence, Keith Huscroft, Tammy Hardwick, CSA Members

March 13 - "The Local Grain Revolution I"
Matt Lowe, Drew Gailius, and more


Photo Album

2009 Nelson Grain Distribution (December 2009)

2009 Grain Distribution at Ellison's Market in Nelson

2009 Grain Distribution at Ellison's Market in Nelson

CSA members line up to receive their 2009 grains. Farmer Keith Huscroft helps out with his wheelbarrow

CSA members line up to receive their 2009 grains

CSA co-founder Matt Lowe helping distribute 2009 grains

Sailing Grain 2009

CSA co-founder Matt Lowe outside the Old World Bakery in Balfour. The bakery donated a loaf of bread to each of the 11 crews and is a member of the CSA.

The boats gather in Balfour.

Jay Blackmore tosses a loaf of bread to David Oosthuizen.

Jesse Phillips stands beside some of the food he prepared for the 11 crews.

Boats in Balfour.

Matt Lowe and David Oosthuizen on the Makai.

David Oosthuizen keeps warm aboard the Makai.

(View more photos of grain sailing Oct.2009)

(View photos of grain sailing Oct.2008)

On the Farm

Roy Lawrence and CSA Members
Roy Lawrence and CSA members 07/08

Khorasan Wheat
Khorasan Wheat 07/08

Roy Lawrence and CSA Members
Roy Lawrence and CSA members 07/08

Roy Lawrence and CSA Members
Roy Lawrence and CSA members 07/08

Keith Huscroft and CSA Members
Keith Huscroft and CSA members 07/08

Keith Huscroft's wagon
Keith Huscroft's wagon

Keith Huscroft and CSA Members
Keith Huscroft and CSA Members 07/08

Keith Huscroft and CSA Members
Keith Huscroft and CSA Members 07/08

Drew and Joanne Gailius, Russell Precious, Andre Piver
Drew and Joanne Gailius, Russell Precious, Andre Piver 09/08

Gailius Farm
Gailius Farm 09/08

Keith Huscroft, Russell Precious and Andre Piver
Keith Huscroft, Russell Precious and Andre Piver 09/08

Harvesting on Keith Huscroft's farm
Harvesting on Keith Huscroft's farm

About ready to Harvest in Creston
About ready to Harvest in Creston 09/08

Harvested Oats
Harvested Oats 09/08

Russell Precious
Russell Precious 09/08

Examining totes of grain
Examining totes of grain 09/08

Harvested Grain
Harvested Grain 09/08

Grain CSA's First Meeting

Matt Lowe, December 2007
West Kootenay EcoSociety's Matt Lowe in December 2007 in Creston, BC

First Grain CSA Meeting, Creston, BC, December 2007
The first meeting of the local grain CSA in Creston, BC. December 2007

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Crop Share

Media and Exposure

eat magazine
Eat Magazine - 03.10

Route 3 - Spring 2010

Orion Magazine 01.10

Eat Magazine 01.10

CBC Radio 1
CBC Radio BC Almanac 10.28.09

Express Newspaper 10.21.09

Nelson Star 10.22.09

Nelson Daily News 10.22.09

Nelson Daily News 10.16.09

"Growing grains for local markets" - Growing for Market - 09.09

Big Ideas
Big Ideas / TV Ontario - 05.31.09

(Grain CSA mentioned at 19:20)

"Grain Growing in the Kootenays Triples in Grain Coalition's Year Two" - The Valley Voice - 04.08.09

"Spencer Coyne - When it comes to local food security, every victory counts" - The Similkameen Spotlight - 03.10.09

The Tyee
"Grow Your Own Bread" - The Tyee - 02.11.09

University of Alberta CJSR, Terra Informa - 02.10.09

Click to view program guide page.
Grain CSA at the University of Alberta's 2009 International Week - 02.03.09

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Small Farm Canada
Small Farm Canada, "Canada's First Grain CSA" - January/February 2009

Click image to read article
Briarpatch Magazine, "Eat, Play, Live" - January/February 2009

Click image to read article
Alternatives Jounral - January/February 2009

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Matt Lowe - Globe and Mail
The Western Producer - 11.13.08

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The Weekender, Creston Valley Advance - 11.07.08

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The Western Producer - 11.06.08

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Express Newspaper - 10.29.08

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Kootenay Harvest Revival
Kootenay Harvest Revival (Sep.19/21, 2008)

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Nelson Star - 09.25.08

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Nelson Daily News - 09.18.08

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Nelson Star - 09.18.08

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Express Newspaper - 09.17.08

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Matt Lowe - Globe and Mail
Grain CSA Co-Founder Matt Lowe in The Globe and Mail - 05.21.08

Who's Getting Inspired?

"I have recently discovered your show and am busy downloading podcasts off of iTunes to try to catch up! I especially enjoy your pieces on The Local Grain Revolution. We are certified organic, small-scale grain farmers here near Edmonton. I have linked your shows to my blog and I hope that more people can pay attention to what you are saying because it is terribly important. I really enjoy your programs when you include sounds from outside the studio... walking through the fields and listening to the sounds of whatever you happen to be talking about. That is how radio is supposed to sound! Great work... please keep going, canít seem to get enough."
Spruce Grove, AB

"After acquiring some sourdough starter from our local artisan bakery, we set about making a batch of Mom's Sourdough Waffles today? Wonderful, thank you again for the work (especially the grains series) and valuable information. Thanks again, my students [University of Michigan-Dearborn] are learning a lot from your show podcasts."
Dearborn, MI

"I have been motivated by your grain CSA series to investigate the interest for something like that in my area (Detroit, MI). I have looked at various flour prices locally, but could use some info on the model your members developed and how it is evolving. I am also inspired to incorporate some form of sail delivery down the St. Clair River if possible. We don't have any navigable inland rivers here, unless I wanted to employ a 20 ft. long Voyageur style canoe. Keep up the great work! I look forward to your podcast every week."
Dearborn, MI

"I just want to tell you how much I love your program. To know that someone is broadcasting about the issues you cover gives me great hope. Your recent information on the grain CSA has peaked my interest in growing a small crop of my own."
Denman Island, BC

"I subscribe to your podcast and listen to it on long car rides and on the metro, to mention just two spots. I can confidently say that it has been a major factor in my decision to apply for apprenticeships on organic farms for the upcoming season. It is especially the hopefulness and community building attested to by guests of yours such as the grain CSA members, the woman featured on "So, you want to become a farmer?", and the academic/doctor/farmer from the Kootenay Harvest Revival that inspire me. Like the audience members you describe as espousing more of a "So, maybe I want to be a farmer?" mantra, I don't know exactly whether farming and I will mesh. But, in part thanks to your show and the other avenues for learning and exploration that it has pointed me down, I can see that the opportunities to create a more just and sustainable food system are many and varied can be found on farm and off, and driven by eaters and producers. They do not fit into a prefabricated mould, but rather flower where there is a synergy between need, creativity, and will. Keep up the good work showcasing the need, creativity, and will of so many inspiring Canadians. You do a great service to eaters everywhere."
Montreal, QC

"The Local Grain Revolution VII knocked me out with goodness! I smiled, laughed out loud and was just generally pleased with having it in my earphones. STEREO! I don't hold out much hope for the "Big Picture" of our western society, but what I heard on March 5th was pure poetry. It is naive I know, to find too much joy in such little things, but I do anyway, I will plant a Deconstructing Dinner Bamboo on the Farm and watch it blow in the wind, just like the sails on Kootenay Lake. Good Work!"
Austin, TX

"Thank you so very much for all that you've done to spread the word re: the grain CSA in the Kootenays. It's been a true inspiration for us as small-scale farmers. In fact, we've started our own project to contribute to the "grain revolution": we've launched a "how to grow your own grains" course called Island Grains. The 2009 course includes a series of workshops with guest speakers (mostly residents of Vancouver Island and Salt Spring) and a 200 sq.ft. starter plot per membership. No growing experience or special equipment is required. Since a family can actually grow their year's supply of wheat (i.e. 60 lbs of flour) on 1,100 sq. ft. or 1/40 acre of land, Island Grains' small-scale approach is a unique and viable way to revive grain growing on the Island and improve food security while practicing sustainable agricultural principles. For more information, please visit Thank you for all that you do. We truly enjoy listening to your podcasts, and look forward to hearing more."
Duncan, BC

"Greetings from southern Idaho. I have recently heard your terrrific radio show and specifically the one about the grain CSA. It is incredibly timely as we are working on putting together a grant to experiment with some grains here on the small scale. I am a starting-out farmer working with draft horses and I was thrilled to hear that one of the farmers in your project is working with horses also. I would love to get in touch with him and see how it went for him and if he has any advice for me. I want to thank you for your show and the dedication you obviously put into it."
Nampa, ID

"I live in New York, and despite the physical distance between me and BC, I love listening to Deconstructing Dinner and find the episode topics very applicable to my daily diet. After listening to the Grain CSA episode a while back, I searched for local organic grain near me in the Hudson Valley. I found it at Wild Hive Farm! After calling them up, I arranged to have them deliver grain, flour and bread orders once a month to the CSA I intern at. Thanks for the continuing education!"
New York, NY

First contact
"I just finished listening to your "Local Grain Revolution II" podcast. Until now, I hadn't yet heard of the Creston Grain CSA Pilot Project and, being situated in Vancouver, couldn't help but feel envious after discovering that residents of Nelson and Creston had access to locally grown grains (incredible!). There is a huge demand for local grains in Vancouver -- as I assume there is in the rest of BC -- which immediately made me wonder if a similar CSA program would work with Vancouver residents. So, not knowing who else to contact about this subject, I turned to you. I am a huge fan of your show and you seem quite well-informed in this area. What are your thoughts on trying to get [a grain CSA] organized?"
Vancouver, BC

The sender was encouraged to speak with CSA Co-Founder Matt Lowe...
"Upon hearing about the success of the CSA in Creston, my first thought was whether such a program would work in Vancouver. I got in touch with Matt Lowe shortly after and discussed with him the possibility of bringing the Creston model to an urban area. With his encouragement, I'm now trying to make that idea a reality. Currently in the first stage of the organizational process - getting a small group of farmers on-board - I'm also beginning to compile a list of people interested in becoming members. Although not set in stone, I expect there will be approximately 200 membership spots in the first year. Priority will be given on a first come, first served basis and, if the initial reception is any indication, spots will likely fill up fast, so make sure you sign up early if you're interested.

Email to CSA Co-Founder Matt Lowe
"I'm a farmer in north-central Montana. I heard the Deconstructing Dinner episode featuring your grain CSA. I think it's a wonderful idea and am considering starting one here in Montana next year. Can I give you a call sometime to talk about it? I'd like to hear about your experiences in setting it up, finding people interested in such a thing, and administering it. Thanks.
Helena, MT

"One of the broadcasts we became quite fond of is Deconstructing Dinner, a weekly show out of Kootenay Co-op Radio in Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. The host, Jon Steinman, does some pretty in depth research into each subject ranging from where that bacon on your plate came from to the resurgence of Heirloom Red Fife Wheat in North America. In fact, this particular episode inspired me so much that I planted some heirloom wheat in our garden and have inflated dreams of becoming a small grain farmer. We'll see if that ever comes to light, but for now I can hear about others successfully growing it in Canada and parts of the US via Deconstructing Dinner.
From a blog

Read in the House of Commons (Canadian Parliament), April 17, 2008, by MP Alex Atamanenko
"As well, we need to not only have that community there for farmers, but we need to have affordable housing and a community that is sustainable and able, within the parameters of the community, to feed itself and also feed people in that province and in Canada.

As we move on and look at the way the whole agricultural industrial model is developing, I predict that we will see, and we see it now, more people moving back to rural Canada and who want to work on sustainable farms.

In my area of the West Kootenays, we have an area just across the mountains, called the Creston Valley, wherein folks are now going to start growing wheat again because there is a demand for it in cities like Nelson and in the West Kootenays, keeping in mind the whole idea of food sovereignty and the 100 mile diet. We see this as a model."


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