Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Matilda the nanny, Petunia the pig, and Eeyore the mini-donkey, are just a few of the animals growing strong and healthy at Rainbow Recovery Farm thanks, in part, to the forward-thinking people running the Trail Beer Refinery.

That’s because ever since the brewing began, all the spent grains have been donated to the Casino farm, as well as to other growers and producers in the area.

How it works, is every few Fridays, Rick Malcolm makes a trip into town from his recovery farm in Casino and parks behind the Refinery, outside the bay door. From the huge beer-making vats, he fills up wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of steaming grains then rolls the bounty through the back of the brewery and unloads it into the box of his pick up.

“There’s no alcohol in the barley (grain),” he began. “What happens is the heat draws out the sugars, but there is about 40 per cent left in there, and it’s still nutritious. So it’s a supplement that we mix with the feed, and all our animals really enjoy it.”

While he’s in town, Malcolm also stops by the Rossland Avenue food bank to pick up the pantry’s old bread so instead of that going into the garbage bin, it gets fed to the animals as well.

To show his appreciation, he brings in his honey and bacon for the Refinery folks to enjoy, and Malcolm donates his meat products back to the food bank and other non-profits like Sanctuary, a free after-school care program for kids ages 8-12.

“So when you think about it, this barley goes a long way throughout the community,” he reflected.

This valued eco-enterprise between business and community has been going on for a few years now, quietly benefiting so many.

So in recognition of Earth Day 2019, which is actually Monday, April 22, the Trail Times chose this unassuming relationship as a fitting example of how eco-smart actions reap huge rewards that reverberate throughout the city year-round.

Read more: Montrose girls lead by example

Read more: Trail farmers market wins best in B.C.

“We started with our first batch,” says the Refinery’s Mike Konkin. “We have never let even one bucket of spent grain go to the garbage.”

And that doesn’t mean the farmers are offered just a few buckets, or wheelbarrow-fuls, every few weeks.

Sometimes there is up to 1,000 kilograms of used grain that, if not given to producers and gardeners, would end up where it shouldn’t be – in the landfill.

“It is a massive amount of waste if not used in some other fashion,” said Konkin. “Pigs love it. It can be used as fertilizer, and we even have someone making dog treats from it.”

Even Konkin’s mom stops by on the occasional brewing day to pick up a few buckets of spent grain for her garden. She finds her flowers come up even brighter when the grain is mulched in with other composted organics.

“My husband figured that one out,” said Gail Konkin, with a smile.

On a bigger scale, there’s another waste reduction project – called organics waste diversion – that is picking up steam in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB).

Over the years, locals may recall hearing about the plan for curbside pick up of certain food scraps. This would mean that countless kilos of organics could be re-purposed – like a big regional compost – instead of being dumped in the landfill and left to rot alongside household garbage that may not have re-use value.

Last week the regional board approved, in principle, “the partnership with the Regional District of Central Kootenay in that the RDKB will supply and/or direct collected organic food waste from the McKelvey Creek Watershed to the Central Landfill facility once the organics processing infrastructure is constructed and operational and by no later than the end of 2022.”

What does this mean in laymen’s terms?

“The committee just approved a two- phase plan,” clarified Trail Coun. Robert Cacchioni, the city’s regional director.

“One is to update the Grand Forks facility to accommodate all the (organic) waste from the boundary area,” he explained.

“The second phase is to partner with central Kootenay with an application to provide organic diversion to the East End.”

This recommendation will be going to the board on April 24.

“… diversion will eliminate about 40 per cent of the waste going into the East End landfill and this will extend the life of the landfill by 40 per cent,” Cacchioni said.

“The committee has done considerable work and has committed to moving the project ahead as soon as possible. It’s something the residents have asked for for a long time … the extension of the landfill lifetime will save millions of dollars for future residents not only of the East End but of the entire regional district.”

Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Worldwide, various events are held to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now includes recognition in more than 193 countries.



newsroom@trailtimes.ca

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Rick Malcolm, owner of Rainbow Recovery Farm in Casino. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Helping to unload spent grains is one of the many jobs for Sheri Konkin on brewing days at the Trail Beer Refinery. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Instead of going into the garbage bin, old bread from the Trail food bank literally goes to the pigs instead. (Sheri Regnier photo)

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