I spoke to Tony from the Welsh grain project today, he works for the Organic centre Wales and he runs the grain project there. His aim is to formalise direct relationships between the different , sometimes disparate, parts of the grain process. In the project there are three farmers, one NON organic and the other two growing a grain called Mulika. Tony envisages that putting bakers and millers in contact means that they can formulate a plan and together approach growers with a specific idea of the quantities to grow already in mind. This reduces the risk for farmers, by assuring them of an outlet for their crop and enables the baker and miller to obtain local products, that could hopefully be made into wholly local sourdough bread. It is also important for Tony’s project to consider the health effects of industrially processed modern wheat. We also talked about wheat populations and heritage grain, but Tony’s role was to try and put local networks together. Heritage grain, populations of grain or discussions around the historic grains of wales, Welsh bearded for example, were not considered.

I need to ask a few more questions of Tony. For example, Is there a contract between the parties that means the product has to be bought once grown? How are the prices fixed, if at all? How do you propose to test the health benefits of this new structure?

On another note. The van load of wheat is being processed down here in Devon. I had to start it today as the weather broke and the sun came out, besides it can’t be good for it to be stuck in my van, damp, hot, full of insects.

Choca with wheat ready to process.
Choca with wheat ready to process.

With the help of Abraham at http://boxturtlebakery.com I found a way to thresh the grain – separate the grain from the straw – by using a leaf blower, sucker, mulcher.

It makes a hell of a noise and you have to push the straw into it.
It makes a hell of a noise and you have to push the straw into it.

With a plastic blade that chops the straw and unsettles the grain.

Its spins and sucks and ruffles
Its spins and sucks and ruffles

Once the van load of straw and grain has been through the machine I end up with a mixture of straw and seed.

all broken up
all broken up

Then I sift the straw by using agile hand movements, the wind and a kids paddling pool… and I get this.

A bowl of seed with a iphone stuffed in it for scale
A bowl of seed with a iphone stuffed in it for scale

The seeds are a fair size and the colour is healthy.

The best use I have had for my phone in six months
The best use I have had for my phone in six months

The next stage, apart from finishing the rest of the van load of grain – I have only treshed two bags and I have another 100 or so to do, I estimate I’ll have 250kg of grain once it has all been processed – is to mill it and then BAKE bread the sourdough way. I now really want to test the quality, rise, structure and taste, of it once baked into bread and once sprouted. I think I’ll do an anonymous test. I’ll process and mill enough for 10 x 500g loaves. I’ll send out the flour along with shop bought stone ground flour marked A and B. Get the bakers to bake and test it with the friends… I’ll do the same with the whole grain and get people to sprout it and sample it…. exciting times for me and for small scale grain growing in south Devon, UK.