You could say that Patricia Hastings, owner of CIPM Farm, knows how to go with the grain. CIPM, a certified organic cash crop farm, grows about 350 acres of organic cereals and other grains. Patricia was in the store delivering our grain last week and I spoke with her about her farm near Stirling, which she purchased more than a decade ago. “It’s got sandy, alkaline soil that’s just great for grains as the excess moisture simply disappears”, she said.
She started out growing Red Fife, a heritage wheat that was first introduced to Canada in the mid-1800s at a farm just half an hour from where Patricia now farms. But, 150 years later, it was all but extinct. “I found a researcher who had a bag of grain and started growing it and, after about 4 years, I had 20 tonnes”.
Patricia keeps her Red Fife harvest in storage as wheat berries because they keep better that way and then she mills it on demand at her own stone mill, just metres from her fields, in order to provide the freshest possible product. The flour contains all of the bran, wheat germ and endosperm of the wheat kernels and is in huge demand by artisanal bakers across the country.
She also plants buckwheat, spelt and rye. Buckwheat, she told me, is a miracle crop in that it totally eradicates weeds in the fields….I could use some buckwheat in my garden! Rye does the same. And she routinely plants clover to fix nitrogen in the fields and keep them thriving!
Patricia and CIPM were awarded the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence in 2008 but she’s not one to rest on her laurels. Her next project is to grow Emmer wheat, which is older than spelt and the original Farro of Italy. It will be several years before it gets to our shelves but it will be worth the wait!