Waves of grain
Grain is the latest crop to add to the long list of foods being grown on Gabriola.
In a discussion last winter with Eric Veale of Sustainable Gabriola, Sal Dominelli began the process of starting up the Gabriola Grain Growing Co-op, currently enjoying its first harvest.
John Peirce, who owns Namaste Farms on South Road talked with Eric and Sal about sharing land and offered 3/4 of an acre for the co-op to farm on. John covered the cost to put up fencing around an area of his property that was partially being used for hay and partially fallow orchard.
“I feel I have a responsibility to try and use land effectively. It’s nice to see land used well, and not just for hay,” John said.
Sal said “the reasons people are involved [in the co-op] range from mild curiosity ... to enhancing knowledge.
“We want to have more locally adapted grains ... and learn more about how to grow on a small scale because that knowledge is lost.”
The co-op harvested its first crop, maize, a couple weeks ago using scythes. Some co-op members have been using it to feed their goats or drying the corn and grinding it into meal to cook and bake with, like Sal. The buckwheat, which was planted as a cover crop to prevent weeds from growing, has been used as chicken feed on the island.
In the fall they will plant two varieties of wheat, barley for malting as well as rye for a cover crop. They also plan to sow quinoa and amaranth next spring.
With seven co-op members plus John as the landowner, Sal said the co-op is currently full. They need more landowners who can provide land to grow on.
Sal said the land doesn’t currently need to be used as farmland.
Anyone who provides land could be granted farm status, which would mean reduced taxes for the owner. Landowners also receive an automatic share in the co-op, meaning they will receive a portion of the profits or product.
Interested landowners can contact Sal at 250-247-7296 or email him at email@example.com.