Come along with me as I show you how to shop a grain store & the seed bank and what strategies I use to get the most out of it.
Part of this urban homesteading is finding the right supplies and ingredients. Today, I am taking you along to show you how to shop at and get the most out of visiting a grain store and the seed bank.
Watch the video here:
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Visting the Grain Store
This is a great place to visit in any event! Some people love to buy flours so they can get started with baking right away. Other people (like me) often love to buy whole grains. Why? They last longer and I grind my own grains. For almost 20 years, I have been so happy with my Kitchen Aid grain mill attachment but I am always curious to see what else is out there:
If you buy already milled flours you could buy them specifically for pizza, bread baking or pretzel making. Specialty bakery supply stores will have all of that! It’s actually really fun seeing all the different types of flour they have.
When you buy whole grains, of course, you are limited to just that grain. However, I do that because whole grains last a lot longer than flours. Flours, especially whole grain flours can go rancid pretty quickly. Whole grains on the other hand can last months if not years if properly stored.
Here are ways to shop the grain store:
Checking out the grain store’s website:
I do that no matter what. I just love to see what they sell. Also, I like to check their prices. Central Milling is the store that I visited and their California location is closest to us. They primarily cater to bakeries and restaurants. But luckily, they also sell to amateur bakers like me! But because their main business is professional bakers, their prices are really good. That also means that you have to buy 5+ pound quantities. Again, no problem for me when I buy whole grains.
Simply checking out the grain store:
Whether you plan a visit there or you stumble upon it by accident, it’s always fun to browse. If you’re lucky you have some time to mill (pun intended) around and see what they have. Again, if you’re like me and love baking you’ll also love all the other baking supplies they carry: yeast, proofing baskets, pasta machines, cast iron loaf pans, basically, everything you could ever want or need.
My hybrid version:
My favorite way is to go online first to see what I might expect. Especially, since this was my first visit to this store. Then I go and make sure I have some time to browse. That way, I get what I need but also leave room to find things I didn’t know I needed … If you are pressed for time, you might just have to go in, get your items, pay, and leave. Again, checking out their website in advance can really help you save some time.
Visiting the Seed Bank
There are many fantastic seed suppliers out there. I am foremost interested in those that sell organic and heirloom seeds. One of them is Baker Creek Seeds. They carry a huge variety of all sorts of vegetables, fruit, herb, and flower seeds. I like what they have and I like to support places like them. Their brick-and-mortar stores are in Missouri, Connecticut, and California.
Visit their website:
I don’t know about you but I love to curl up on the couch or in bed and peruse their catalog. There’s something about holding something in my hand and actively flipping pages. This is even more fun on a cool Winter evening and dreaming about summer! If you don’t have their catalog you can find everything online. That’s a great way to see what they have in stock – often with up-to-date information about their availabilities.
Heading to the Seed Bank:
If you’re lucky to live close to one of their retail locations, you could just head there. This makes a lot of sense for beginner gardeners. The success of your harvest depends on your climate zone, the soil type in your garden, and the amount of sun it gets. it can be overwhelming to figure all of that out. It’s always a good idea to start small with just a few vegetables. If you have more questions, you’ll find that store staff will happily help you identify some good plants for your particular location and needs.
The hybrid shopping version:
Again, my favorite way to do it. I like to go through the catalog both finding the vegetables that I am looking for and getting inspired. For example, I wanted to plant carrots but I had no idea how many fun varieties they carry! I ended up buying a reddish purplish variety that looks absolutely stunning.
Once you have a list of what you want, you can go to the store, let yourself be inspired but also ask the sales people questions. You might end up buying more than you wanted – which is all too easy for me. If you’re on a strict budget, you may want to stay very focused, only buy what you need and leave.
But who doesn’t like browsing and looking at all sorts of pretty things while dreaming of all the veggies you’ll plant and harvest?