Next meeting agenda 24th August

Welsh Grain Forum Meeting: Monday 24th August.

11am Caerhys Farm for tour followed by lunch and meeting (2pm) at Trefacwn.


1. Welcome and Introductions.

2. Invite someone to chair the meeting and to someone take minutes.

3. Minutes of the previous meeting and matters arising, (to include finalising committee and

signing the constitution.)

4. Report by Rick Coldman on his study trip to Germany.

5. Andy Forbes: the work of Brockwell Bake and discussion of proposals regarding the

management of heritage germplasm (see previous mail).

6. Review of Welsh Grain related activity since our last meeting.

7. Plans for future activities.

8. AOB

9. Date for next meeting.

Hen Gymro

Andy Forbes emails the forum to explain he wants to attend the next meeting:

“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.

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June 25th 2015 Meeting

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.
  • Agenda:

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

Admin – taking over from Tony


Report from Paysanne Boulanger course

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

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’.

The land

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!


March 2015 Meeting

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,

Re-invigorating grain economies: A workshop. Falcondale Hotel, Lampeter

The inaugural meeting of the Welsh Grain Forum was held at the Falcondale Hotel, Lampeter, 11th November 2013. The meeting revolved around the aim of revitalising the growing of all kinds of grain in Wales. Around 40 participants heard talks from a miller, two bakers, a grain grower, a brewer and a distiller, and how they would like to be able to use more grain from Wales in their products, if only it was available.

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