Island Grains

What kind of grains can I grow?

There are countless varieties of grains in the world. In Canada, we haven't (yet) fully explored the many varieties to know which ones will do best in our many micro-climates, or are best suited to our individual eating styles. To get you started on discovering which grains are right for you, here are some recommendations:

Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds:

  • blue-tinged Ethiopian wheat (delicious when whole cooked)
  • Red Fife wheat (excellent flavour)
  • Brazilian lavras wheat (especially when whole cooked)

Robert Giardino of the Heritage Grains Foundation:

  • emmer (an ancestral grain eaten by the pharoahs; extremely difficult to thresh without machinery)

Helen Reid, Cowichan quinoa grower:

  • quinoa, although not technically a grain (stunningly beautiful plants; a local alternative to rice; a nutrient powerhouse)

Brock & Heather of Makaria Farm:

  • modern wheats, such as the generic "hard white spring wheat" (we love the short, consistent height (2' in 2010) for harvesting with a scythe, and they grow well for us)
  • rye (it grows really tall at 8-9', which risks lodging, but we like getting all the straw as a byproduct; we like rye as a cover crop for our vegetable farm; and we get massive yields from the 8-10" long seed heads which leads to greater yields in small areas)
  • flax (it's pretty in bouquets!)

For a summary of what we've learned/heard so far about each variety of grain, please visit our Grains 101 page.

To ask more questions, click here to return to How to Grow Grains.

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  1. The Heritage Grain Conservancy offers robust, delicious landrace wheats that have been selected for local adaptability under SARE funding over 5 years on organic farms throughout New England.
    See: for details.

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