Joint Venture will lead to new Northumbrian 'Field to Fork' Product

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A joint venture to grow and mill a primitive form of wheat in north Northumberland has been launched, brought about by an ever increasing demand for spelt flour. Matthew Rawlings of The Great Northumberland Bread Company has teamed up with Andrew and Guy Warcup of Ford & Etal Farms to grow a field of the crop that will be harvested in the autumn then processed at the nearby Heatherslaw Corn Mill where spelt flour has been milled for the last couple of years.

Spelt is a primitive form of wheat widely used by our ancestors. It has a high carbohydrate complexity which makes it much more digestible than modern wheats and is suitable for those who find it difficult to tolerate gluten in their diet.

Matthew Rawlings has found that demand for spelt loaves is increasing and wanted to grow his own supply. “I approached the estate and with the help of the Warcups we have now planted 10 acres of spelt. It will be exciting to watch it grow and see it harvested. It will be a true Northumbrian ‘field to fork’ product,” said Matthew.

Heatherslaw Corn Mill has also secured a parcel of local milling wheat from Peter Straker-Smith’s farm at Carham. Head Miller Dave Harris-Jones says: “This is an excellent crop and goes through the millstones to produce a really lovely wholemeal flour. We are very pleased - to be milling such a high quality, locally grown product, and delighted that it is also being used in the Great Northumberland Bread Company’s range of delicious breads.”

To secure the crop, Dave had first to arrange for his existing supply to be cleaned and transferred so that he had space in the hoppers. “We are extremely grateful to Douglas Stephen of Crop Services Scotland, based in Kelso, for his help and generosity in achieving this for us,” says Dave. “We had first class service from his team, in a pretty short time frame. They cleaned and re-bagged the stock for us, allowing us to put the first batch of Peter’s crop through the mill”.

Heatherslaw Cornmill is open to visitors every day from 20th March-30th October when they can watch the milling process from grain to flour and buy the end product in the Gift Shop. There will also be activity days through the season when children and adults can try their hand at bread-making using freshly milled flour. Mill products are available at a number of local outlets and by mail order – visit www.ford-and-etal.co.uk/heatherslaw-mill for more information.

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