Artisan bread deal brings wheat farmer closer to his consumers

Luke Paterson delivers wheat to Steve Winter of Bread Source bakery in Horsham St Faith. PHOTO BY SI

Luke Paterson delivers wheat to Steve Winter of Bread Source bakery in Horsham St Faith. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Norfolk-grown wheat is being delivered directly to an artisan baker as part of a project to produce a truly 'local loaf' – and bridge the gap between farmers and their consumers.

The Bread Source bakery at Horsham St Faiths, north of Norwich, is milling about half a tonne of wheat per week delivered by Luke Paterson, of north Norfolk brokers Paterson Ag.

The bakery, which has a shop in Aylsham and also sells through weekly markets and wholesalers, is run by Steven Winter, who is committed to producing additive-free bread with low food miles and the most traceable local provenance possible.

He said although the flour needed to be worked in a different way to commercial options, the quality of the grain, and the control of the milling process by using the firm's own Austrian stone mill, meant the flavour and nutrients of the wheat was preserved.

'The whole concept from the beginning was to create a completely local loaf,' said Mr Winter.

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'The idea is cut the food miles down, so using local grain is very important. We're here in Norfolk so there is a lot of grain being grown which is being taken away and milled elsewhere.

'Most of the flour you get is from overseas, from places like Canada or Algeria. Because we are making ours from Norfolk grain, there is a particular way we need to work it.

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'Each loaf takes 24-30 hours from start to finish, because of the techniques we use. It is a long slow fermentation, but with a lot of the commercial stuff it will go from start to packet in four hours.'

Mr Paterson, who is also chairman of Stalham Farmers' Club, said: 'One of the really nice things about this is that I get to be closer to the consumer. Usually, the grain leaves in a 29-tonne lorry and we don't have any control over how it is used.

'For me, it's absolutely faceless, so its nice to reconnect the farmer and the consumer through a shorter supply chain. I can listen to what Steve wants, whether it is heritage varieties or grain with reduced fertiliser and spray inputs,

'This batch would have failed the specifications to get a premium as milling wheat, because it was only 11.5pc protein rather than the requirement for 13pc. So it is interesting that the skilled baker does not need 13pc – but that is what we are told by the merchants.'

Mr Winter added: 'This grain would get turned away at the mill and go for feed. But the we way we are working the flour gives us other benefits. We are not looking for high volume. We want the flavour.'

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