Joint venture to grow and mill spelt produce

Matthew Rawlings, owner of Great Northumberland Bread Company; Dave Harris Jones, Heatherslaw Corn Mill; 
Rachel Bexon, Great Northumberland Bread Company; 
Peter Straker-Smith, Wark Common Farm (wheat grower); 
Douglas Stephen, Crop Services Kelso.
Matthew Rawlings, owner of Great Northumberland Bread Company; Dave Harris Jones, Heatherslaw Corn Mill; Rachel Bexon, Great Northumberland Bread Company; Peter Straker-Smith, Wark Common Farm (wheat grower); Douglas Stephen, Crop Services Kelso.

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 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 a true Northumbrian ‘field to fork’ product,” he said.

The corn mill has also secured a parcel of local milling wheat from Peter Straker-Smith’s farm at Carham.

Head miller Dave Harris-Jones said: “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 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. He said: “We are extremely grateful to Douglas Stephen, of Crop Services Scotland, based in Kelso, for his help and generosity in achieving this for us.”

Mill products are available at local outlets and by mail order. Visit ford-and-etal.co.uk/heatherslaw-mill for details.