Fields of grain often conjure up images of the Canadian Prairies. But farms in the Comox Valley are taking a serious look at bringing grain production back to Vancouver Island. Whether it’s because of the high cost of feed for animals or the lack of supply of organic, non-sprayed food sources, the demand for locally grown grains is increasing.

The Mid Island Farmers Institute is hosting an information night on “Small Scale Grains” with local farmer, Glen Beaton, of StoneCroft Farm on Wednesday, March 15th at 7pm. The meeting will be held in the downstairs meeting room of the Merville Hall, 1245 Fenwick Rd. Entrance is free and tea and snacks will be provided.

The talk will cover the basics of how grains (and which ones) can be grown successfully on a small scale, the equipment required, and the expected returns. A number of farms in the Comox Valley have either purchased or refurbished seed drills and combines so this equipment is available in the Valley.

The demand, especially for certified or organically grown grains is high and according to the Canadian Organic Growers, has increased 170% since 2002. Consumers want products made with locally grown inputs. More farms are looking for non-GMO, unsprayed grains for animal feed and consumers are asking for finished product that has been fed with those inputs.

I’ve initially had to cut back my production of organic layer hens due to the price of certified organic feed. The cost of a bag of feed jumped to over $26 a bag, almost $1200 a ton. We’re looking at growing some of our own grains to reduce that input cost as well as to supply us with organic straw.

Neil Turner

Amara Farm

For more information, please contact Arzeena Hamir, President of the Mid Island Farmers Institute, at 250 702 5657 or email midislandfarmersinstitute@gmail.com