The notes for this meeting can be downloaded here
Welsh Grain Forum Meeting
25 June 2015, Felin Ganol, Llanrhystud
Anne (Chair) & Andrew Parry, Felin Ganol
John Savage, Da Mhile Distillery
Rupert Dunn, Torth y Tir
Nicky Mason & Steven Jacobs, Organic Farmers & Growers
Andrew Broad & Daphne Field
Lucy Watson & Ben Pratt, The Organic Fresh Food Company
Tony Little (Notes)
Apologies from: Andy & Leanne Wright, Gez Richards, Alex Gooch, Rick Coldman
Updates from Welsh Grain Forum members
Activities since the last meeting included:
Felin Ganol: Attended the Spring Festival (see below for details); Milling Tybalt from IBERS, April Bearded and Granary from Andrew Broad and testing a mix of heritage varieties from Graham Morris; Building links with Bara Menyn in Cardigan
Da Mhile: Producing a single malt from Brewers wort supplied from Brecon Brewery (?)
OF&G (Organic Farmers & Growers): Organisers of the National Organic Combinable Crops event (formerly National Organic Cereals); Very interested in heritage varieties; Links with the Totnes oats project, who are looking to mill a small quantity of oats supplied from within in a thirty mile radius of the town; Supportive of Transition Town Shrewsbury and wider Transition Network and sharing knowledge. Offering support to the Welsh Grain Forum.
The support OF&G are offering to take a form yet to be decided but to some extent this is up to the forum to say what is needed. If I can reiterate as I said at the meeting this can be us helping generally, besides with office support if required also that we would be very happy to promote the forum and its members and ideals as and when appropriate. Again depending on what the forum requires. For instance if we can take up some of the duties with administrating meetings or something similar we’d be happy to help.
Steven says: I realise forum members will be in the throes of harvesting, threshing and so forth and I hope all is well. Does seem to be a rather bitty harvest this year with many reporting having to dive in and out of the weather and that some crops being fully ripe while others still green. I’d be very interested to learn how your heritage varieties are faring on this.
Torth y Tir: Generally crops are doing well, particularly the Rye. For wheat, growing Aragon 03 and Hen Gymro, though the latter is a bit behind. Bakery is developing with support from Growing Livelihoods; Festival in May went well; new oven worked well and pizza were great; Successfully applied for a grant from Growing Livelihoods to set up the bakery; Looking to move on site & start milling there next year
Fronlas: Mixed season. Attlee (red wheat), is looking good, but Maris Widgeon and spelt have failed. Bough a grain cleaner and drier.
Organic Fresh Food Company; Producing 650 loaves/ week now; Started growing; Land ploughed and sowed with forage brassicas. Spelt, rye and wheat to be sown in the Autumn. Battling weeds! Some difficulties with seed, possibly because it originates from East of England and therefore not suited to Welsh conditions. Could try sourcing from West of England, Northumberland, Scotland or Brittany?
Naomi Salmon: Obtained planning permission to build bakery at home in Borth. Up to now, have been using a domestic oven, but it’s not up to scratch. Looking for advice on commercial oven, and will visit Lucy and Ben at Organic Fresh food company. Will market through shops and looking at a community supported bakery – good potential in Abersytwyth. Vic North runs excellent Bakery courses http://vicnorth.co.uk/
The Spring Festival went very well. We had many of the Welsh Grain Forum members present, and Tom Bean estimates that 200 people participated in the pizza making workshop which provided ample opportunity to talk about Welsh Grain. Anne Parry gave a presentation on the Forum as part of the ’10 Minute Talk Shops’ on the OCW stand.
All the promotional materials were well received – our thanks to Leanne
We agreed that this is the kind of thing we would want to do again, but it is quite expensive and would require external funding
Activities for next year
The following were suggested
Members attending food festivals etc could also promote the Forum
A harvest event
A visit to Andy Forbes
A visit to John Letts
A screening of the Grain Divide when it eventually comes out!
The new improved website is now operational. Changes include:
A new ‘Wordpress’ theme
Application of new branding
Expansion of expand links/contacts to similar organisations in Europe/worldwide (good for search engines)
Integration of the Facebook account
Expansion of the about page
Compatibility on smartphones/tablet
Search engine optimisation
Improvement to the Forum/corn exchange
Our thanks to Andy Wright for his work on this and to Gary for his continued input. Our Facebook Likes have already increased as result of the new site.
With the end of the BOBL project and Tony leaving OCW, we need to make new arrangements for managing the group. OF&G offered to pick up the secretarial support, make strategic links with other organisations and co-ordinate some of the Forum’s activities.
The constitution was agreed. The Committee will include:
Anne Parry, Felin Ganol
Rupert Dunn, Torth o’r Tir
Daphne Fields, Fronlas Farm
Ben Pratt, Organic Fresh Food Company
Gary Whitely will support the committee on an ad hoc basis
The Forum will Bank with Triodos.
To be agreed via ‘Doodle’
The ‘Just Growth’ programme is providing some grants from the Fund for Enlightened Agriculture, which may of interest to some members. See here for details
Tony to work on a MOU between the University and the Welsh Grain Forum for use of the Dehuller
Tony to pass the popup banner on to Anne
The Gaia Foundation has received funding from the A Team Foundation to progress the development of local seed seeds systems as outlined in the last meeting. If you are interested in participating contact Helen Strong
“As I think most of you know Brockwell Bake more or less by chance had been bulking up the Hen Gymro S70 selection from the Welsh landrace “Hen Gymro” since 2011 alongside various other British Isles wheats, other than our own local Suth East England lines, always with hope of returning them home. So its been very fortuitous that Welsh Grain Forum as well as Scotland The Bread have got started up in recent times. The majority of the Hen Gymro S70 seed stock (in the world) went to Rupert at Torth Y Tir last season.
In case you haven’t seen before this link details what we know about Hen Gymro and the extant accessions in genebanks. I’m pretty envious as Hen Gymro almost certainly was last landrace wheat in use in British Isles, in the 1920s, whereas the main landrace origin good milling wheats we have for South East England were last in popular use in the 1830s.
What we haven’t had growing of extant Hen Gymro germplasm before now was the accessions held by the Vavilov Institute in Russia despite several years of trying to get samples from them. Thanks to meeting of myself and Andrew Whitley with VIR people in Finland last summer, Andrew was invited to St Petersburg and amongst other things brought back the missing Hen Gymro (Hen Gimro) accessions last year – produce of which I harvested from my London allotment yesterday.http://brockwell-bake.org.uk/
Thursday 25th at 2:00 – 5:00 is the next meeting – 2:00 to 5:00 at Felin Ganol, Llanrhystud. As usual, bring something to eat and share and we’ll have lunch together from 1:00
- Pleased to welcome another new member, Naomi Salmon. She will starting to bake on a very small scale in Borth (near Aberystwyth) shortly, and will hopefully be with us on the 25th.
Update from group members
A look back at the Spring Festival
A look forward to Forum Activities for the rest of the year
Website (new and improved – If you haven’t seen it lately visit http://welshgrainforum.co.uk/)
Admin – taking over from Tony
This is Rupert’s brief report from a trip to Brittany early in 2015. A more comprehensive write-up will be available later in the year. (PDF Available)
Nicolas Supiot is one of the most famous peasant bakers in France. In fact he coined the phrase ‘peasant’ almost 20 years ago and brought it back from a derogatory word.
Nicolas has been growing his own grain, processing milling and baking only by hand (in a dough trough) for the last 20 years. This is what is means to be a peasant baker, to use only your own flour.
If you speak French, watch this video for a good introduction
Nicolas’ home and bakery is close to the farm, which is owned by an association and of which he and his wife Laeticia are tenants. This is their blog.
At the farm the have 20 or so ‘Bret’ cows, which apparently originated from Wales. They are similar to the size of Dexters. The farmhouse dates back to the 6th Century.
I attended this five-day course, which Nicolas holds twice a year for people wishing to set up their own peasant bakeries. I was part of a group of twelve which also included Ben Mckinnon, founder of E5 bakehouse in Hackney. They have recently purchased a mill at the bakery and five hectares of land two hours from London.
During the course Nicolas expounded on 20 years of experience. He shared his considerable experience and knowledge in the areas of:
- Wheat and its relationship to the land and humans.
- His production methods, how he grows
- Harvesting and preparing for processing
- Demonstrated all his farm machinery and processing kit
- Baking and leavens. Making a leaven, working with different flours by hand, baking in a wood fired oven and oven construction.
The key things I learned was:
It is possible! Like Nicolas said ‘we did not know it was not possible so we did it’.
Nicolas grows many other crops in with his wheat, including lupin, clover, fava beans (which he feeds to the animals) and Camelina (false flax) and Nigella. He makes oil from the latter two. Nigella oil seems to be a health wonder, it has a very interesting flavor.
All of these plants work well together without competing with the wheat, they also work well with the land.
Nicolas approach to farming is not so much to follow a strict rotation, but to read the land, to see what weeds grow tells him the state of the land.
As a general rule, he plants a good diversity of plants in the land, as this is best for the long term health of the soil.
He grows a mix of seven varieties of wheat ‘Ble du Redon’, all of them local to Brittany.
Nicolas puts at least some of his straw back on the land, building soil carbon which aid the retention of nutrients. He talked allot about ‘thermo lactic’ chemistry in the soil as very important, I need to find out more on this!
Essentially Nicolas fosters a soil which is rich in micronutrients and healthy bacteria.
He ploughs with an Ecodyn which does not plough more than 5cm in depth, leaving subsoil and any microrizhal fungi intact.
Nicolas also has a range of gain cleaning and processing kit, including two cleaners, a polisher, dryer (which he does not use). I have pictures/film of some on operation. They are all older bits of kit, the new build cleaners are designed for bigger tonnage.
He also demonstrated his mill, the Moulan Astrie made in Brittany. Its an electric powered stone mill.
Nicolas mills once a week as he said that many of the minerals in the flour only last up to two weeks.
Nicolas is very in touch with the whole baking process, this is why he does everything by hand, so he can really feel everything he does.
Before he puts the water into his leaven (bulked up the night before and made from the ‘demi bran’ or semolina) he creates a ‘vortex’ in the water to restructure the molecules. Ala Schauberger.
The dough is then mixed by hand in a dough trough. The process takes around 4 hours from mix to be ready to baked. The bakery is kept at 20C and the dough at a temp of 26C.
He said that naturally leavened bread is called a ‘pre-biotic’. This means that it has the structure within it, once eating to become a pro-biotic once more.
Nicolas built his dome wood-fired oven by hand, he even made the bricks. It fits 70kg of dough. He does two firings in a day and bakes two days per week.
His wife Laeticia also makes 100% buckwheat bread, made from buckwheat grown on the farm.
The bread is the best I have eaten!
We have a lovely new leaflet to promote our work and spread the message about Welsh Grain
A great day was had at the Spring Fair in Builth. The Pizza workshops were a great draw and together it was a really good day of promoting Welsh grain.
NEXT MEETING – 11th March 2015
Victoria Hall, Bryn Road, Lampeter, SA48 7EE
The meeting starts at 1.00pm, but the hall will be open from 12.30pm if you want to bring lunch to share beforehand.
Agenda so far:
- Promotional materials including logo design – Leanne
- Constitution – Anne
- Update on Spring festival – Tony
- Feedback on Malting Barley report
- Study tours
Notes from previous meeting on 26th January 2015 are here: Grain Forum meeting 26 Jan 2015.
For more information contact: Tony Little, 01970 621632, firstname.lastname@example.org
The notes for this meeting are available here as a PDF.
This was the second meeting of the grain group. The first, held in Lampeter in November 2013, was very much a networking opportunity. This meeting was more ‘brass tacks’ in its approach and aimed to plan activities for 2014.