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How's it growin'?

Long time, no "seed"!

If you have been following us on social media, you'll know that we replanted the Strathma Patch this year. Last summer, Adele was our in-house expert who helped us plan, plant, and tend our beautiful harvest. This year, I have been the one to take up the trowel.

Lauren, smiling and looking at the camera with a row of green garden lettuce in the foreground
Posing with our earliest garden crop, lettuce!

Last year, we learned so much as a group about using standing garden beds, especially metal ones like ours during our hot summer days!

A few plants, especially tomatoes and squash, did incredibly well, whereas a few things, like peas and cabbage, struggled a bit.

With the help of a few books (including a few from our museum's library!), we made up a new plan and layout for this growing season.

Part 1: Onto the"Grain" Event

Instead of only planting vegetables this year, I decided to bring in a few new, old ideas...

One major change? Adding grains to our garden beds.

Wheat, barley, and oats were planted in the garden this spring, and already by mid-August, they are ready to be harvested. Given how well these three crops have done, it's easy to see why they have such a long history of being grown here in Western Canada.

About that history...

ARCH015266 - Early resident of Strathcona County, Tom Daly, posing with his grain harvest. These beautiful bushels netted him first prize at the World's Fair Paris in 1906!

All corners of Strathcona County have a past and present relationship to farming and raising livestock. Many of our early settlers, such as the Daly family (check out the photo above), were very successful farmers in this region. The influence of these agricultural settlers in how our community looks today is easy to find scattered throughout our community - if you want to know more, come on into Strathma and check out our vignette gallery!

Two of our hamlets, Ardrossan and Josephburg, continue to be active farming communities in the County. But for all county residents, agricultural societies, weekly farmers markets, and urban gardens are just a few of the ways that even folks living in larger communities like Sherwood Park continue to connect with producers.

Needless to say, while early splash of green these crops gave to the back garden was a real treat, learning a bit more about the continuing tradition of grain harvesting was a real 'win' in the Strathma Patch this garden season.

It would appear the neighbourhood birds are enjoying the grain harvest too...

How to use the grains

Grains like wheat and barley are, of course, still staple parts of diets here in the County. Typically on this blog, we love to include recipes to accompany each post but how do you begin to pick when nearly all baking and cooking starts with flour?

But flour is not the only way we eat grains. If prepared properly, you can actually eat barley and wheat seeds! Plus, they are a healthy and delicious addition to a dinner table spread.

Look below for two recipes using barley and wheat seeds from our archives (the latter being, admittedly, a bit unique...)

ARCH 016411 - From "The Banner Cook Book" (1935). This edition of the Banner Cook Book heavily advertises with Krause Milling Co., based just north of the County in Radway, Alberta

From "Thinking About Food?: A Collection of Recipes" from the National Farmers Union (1998)

Since we don't have the tools necessary to remove the chaff (the "hairy" part of the grains you can't eat), not to mention a grindstone to turn these grains into flour, we are not planning on eating our harvest here at the museum.

But fear not! There are a few ways you that you, dear reader, can try a locally-grown staple for yourself...

Of course, we simply must mention the incredible folks at Strathcona Stone Ground Organics who still operate a flour mill right here in the County! You can even source wheat berries and rolled oats from these fine folks.

These three grains are only just the start of what's been going and growing in our garden beds this summer. Stay tuned to "Our Vintage Table" in the coming weeks as we digitally share the harvest of the Strathma Patch moving into the autumn!

Catch 'ya in the kitchen,


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