This year, along with the YQ and Q population wheats growing in the alleys in Willow Field, we’ve beein sowing more seeds, drilling more grains. These will bring more diveresity to the fields and more diversity of flavour, nutrition, experimentation, creation and much more in our bakery. Paul and Mark, our farmers, will harvest them this July – August and we can’t wait to use them in the bakery.
Cropping alley 1
Naked Barley – long before we ate modern wheat, naked barley sustained us. Well suited to our climate, Bronze Age farmers would be very familiar with this nutritious, malty cereal. Unlike most barley, where the inedible husk is tightly stuck to the grain, the husks fall off the naked barley grain when it’s harvested and threshed, leaving the tasty and nutritious whole grain ready to use. It has a lovely sweet flavour and is great in biscuits and cakes.
Cropping alley 2
Oland Wheat – wholegrain flour made from Oland wheat kernels in sweet and aromatic, high in glutend, and delicious in bread, pastries and pasta. It is a Swedish heritage landrace of wheat originally from the island of the same name. It is widely used and regarded as an excellent bread wheat by artisan bakers in Sweden and Denmark today thanks to its unlikely revival from near extinction in 1965. It is still quite rare to find it in the UK. Like barley, it is a spring sewn wheat so was drilling in March 20201. It’s useful for farmers to add a second cereal to their organic rotations.
It was part of a collection of grains that became known as “the Treasure of Ardre”. The story goes that in 1965 a group from the Swedish agricultural society were out hiking on the island of Gotland, off the Swedish coast. They reached a farm owned by Ragnar Pettersson, a recently deceased and by-all-accounts somewhat eccentric local farmer who had resisted the wave of agricultural modernisation that had gripped the rest of the country, not to mention the world, during recent decades. Pettersson had foregone the move to industrial monocultures of modern wheat in favour of sowing his fields with a diverse mixture of different grains, a decision which quite amused his neighbours. Yet while his methods may have appeared strange, no-one could deny the superior flavour of his bread, and Pettersson insisted that it was the diversity of his grain that was the key. The group, recognising the unique collection they had stumbled upon, collected samples of the grains and sent them for safe keeping in Svalbard, a seed bank in Norway. Nothing would have come from this, except for the work of plant breeder Hans Larsson who 30 years later, revived these wheat lines from the samples held in the gene bank, undertaking the painstaking work of sewing and resewing each year, bulking them up sufficiently so they could once again be grown by farmers. Thank you Kim at Small Food Bakery for your help with the information on Oland wheat.
Cropping alley 3
Our mixed alley, from east to west –
Purple Naked Spelt from Andrew Forbes, grown at Gothelney Farm, Somerset, by Fred Price; Edgar Wheat from John and Guy Turner at Turners of Bytham Organic Farm; Oak Farm Population developed by Edward Dickin, from Turners of Bytham Organic Farm; Purple Paragon Wheat from Nick Fradgley at NIAB, formerly worked with Martin Wolf and the ORC at Wakelyns; Cornovii, formulated as a mixture, developed by Fred Price with John Turner, from Turners of Bytham Organic Farm; Red Lammas from Fred Price at Gothelney Farm, Somerset . To read more about all of them, click here.
Cropping alleys 4 – 6