Wheat

Background and History

Our milling building grinds and sifts flour all year round. Our customers receive freshly prepared flour. Milling is not our full time occupation and so visits to our farm and milling building are best done by appointment. We are strong supporters of local farming. Please reach out to us if you are interested in seeing what we do in terms of growing, harvesting, storage, grinding, and sifting wheat. My family wants to see other farms succeed with growing grains. Rotational grazing with pastured animals combined with grain sowing is a sustainable agricultural practice that should be more widespread. We can explain and show you in detail what has worked for us. E-mail us at mail@whitesfieldsfarm.com or text 413 813 8205.

The local food movement continues to thrive and expand in our communities. Growing wheat in Hardwick in recent years has been both a fulfilling family and community activity that works well with our farmland. 

In 2010, Stan came up with the hobby idea of “The 1000 yard beer project” where all the ingredients would be sourced near our house. I had already thriving hop vines and he decided to grow a field of barley. The barley plants ended up looking awful at harvest time and so the crop was abandoned for the wild turkeys to eat. However, our interest in grain growing was firmly planted. From many conversations we understood that if we could produce grain, then our local community would support us with markets.

Next year’s effort led to growing barley as well as the ancient grains, Emmer and Red Fife. For our first harvest we dried a wagon load of scythed wheat and then stuffed this in large burlap bags. With friends, we beat the bags hard with nunchucks.  A powerful fan blew away the chaff from the heavier seed. We ended up with a yield of 50 pounds of wheat from having planted 50 pounds amount of seed. This was an entertaining learning experience with lots of beer drinking.

We realized that growing wheat is as easy as planting grass. After harvest, we return the field to pasture for our grazing animals for at least three years to build up fertility and reduce weed pressures. With our wheat field rotation, there natural weed suppression. There is little worry that weeds will diminish yields and taint the grain quality in terms of taste and purity. 

As my family became more ambitious with growing grains, we understood that we needed more practical methods for threshing and winnowing. Our next step in 2012 was to attend University of Vermont sponsored grain growing events. We toured Ben Gleason’s wheat fields and milling operation and decided to follow the model of his small scale one man operation. His hard red winter wheat variety bread in Canada, Redeemer, ranks high in taste tests.

For harvesting and threshing we bought a small-scale combine for rice and wheat from China. For winnowing, Stan purchased a 100 year old clipper mill from Kansas. My son's engineering expertise helped turn this antique into a completely functional machine. We were thrilled when our Redeemer wheat tested at the UVM Grain Laboratory as a high quality crop in September 2012. With some trepidation, we offered a sample to Glenn Mitchell at Rose32 Bakery in Gilbertville. We were ecstatic with his positive feedback and strong encouragement. We have a great relationship with bakers, that continues to expand.

For 2015, we produced 8000 pounds of Redeemer wheat. We used a renovated 1955 Allis Chambers combine to bring the entire crop in on one day before a thunderstorm. 

Packages of our flour are sold at the Boston Public Market by the Stillman’s Farm.

My oldest son built a timber frame structure with the use of his sawmill to house an Austrian manufactured Osttiroler Getreidemühlen stone mill. This mill makes it possible for us to supply larger volumes of high quality flour to bakeries like Rose32. A large sifter from North Carolina removes bran to make a bolted flour.  Bolted flour has the nutrition and flavor of whole wheat without the heavy and high water absorption qualities.

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