WATCH: Farmers are gaining interest in growing grains on the Island. Ceilidh Millar reports.
A young group of future farmers visiting the Roost Farm Centre in North Saanich are learning how to turn wheat into flour.
“This is full, honest, whole wheat flour,” said farmer Hamish Crawford. “We grow four to five acres of wheat a year which usually gives us about five or six tonnes off the acreage we are growing.”
Grain crops like wheat and barley on Vancouver Island were almost non-existent until recently as a growing group of farmers tap into a market on the rise.
“When we started growing wheat, there was no one else that I knew of in this area that was growing grains,” Crawford explained. “We got the attention of quite a few local farms, craft distillers, craft brewers.”
Now, the Island is seeing a resurgence in grain crops with at least a few dozen on the Saanich Peninsula.
The demand is being driven by a movement for locally-sourced ingredients by bakeries, breweries and distillers.
“It’s a way of utilizing our land,” Crawford said. “There’s a lot on the Island still vacant that could be used.”
While it’s still uncommon to see grain crops on the Island, at one point it wasn’t.
The Island used to export wheat before the Second World War but if you think the Island will become the Saskatchewan of the west – think again.
“We’re not going to see any big grain elevators going up anytime soon,” Crawford said.