Having just talked to Ben at E5 bakery, there seams an appetite for heritage grain and making loaves that come entirely from british wheat. The bakery have taken the steps of growing their own heritage grain on 13 acres of land in suffolk. Ben feels that there is something worth while investigating in heritage UK grain “It has to be more sustainable to grow our own wheat?” This maybe true in some ares of the UK, but others might not be suited to wheat. The soil might not be of good enough quality, although it would have to be pretty bad not to grow heritage wheat on it. In fact the land needs to have some element of tardiness to it because if it is good land with plenty of available nitrogen the wheat will grow too tall and lodge (fall over) and be difficult to harvest. He was interested in the idea of terrior of wheat – http://www.sunset.com/food-wine/techniques/new-wheat-flour-varieties – and something this project would like to progress into.
The conversation quickened when we talked around the problems of making a loaf out of heritage grain that was comparable to the open structured sourdoughs currently favoured by customers. Ben felt that the wheat would make the bread heavier, Rye like I imagined, and not a favourable for his east London customers. Developing this as a product bought me back to the readings of Don Tapscott and Wikinomics. He talks about R&D departments and their lack of new developments despite massive budgets. Everyone knows about Linux and their success, now powering 80% of the worlds computers, despite having few staff. The reason they are successful and the R&D departments strategy is to open up their briefs to the internet community. To ‘open source’ the idea. They say that to create Linux in the old paradigm of ‘whats mine is mine’ would of taken hundreds of thousands of hours and billions on dollars. On a smallish bakery scale the numbers will be smaller, but the effect the same. Time and money could be saved as people will be able to bake on their time in their space, freeing E5 to continue with their everyday business.
How do we propose to start this project? maybe a competition? maybe a slice of the action? maybe just peer recognition?
The first obstacle would be to find heritage wheat grown in the UK. Dove’s and Cann MIlls defiantly use approx. 50% of imported organic flour in their heritage ranges, the others I imagine are the same, so that would indicate that there are very few people growing heritage wheat in the UK and even fewer places milling it.
If you know anyone growing heritage wheat in the UK let me know?