The story so far – by George Walker
When I saw David Graham’s article about VON flour in the summer 2013 issue of GGI (p.4) I immediately saw an opportunity I fancied a slice of. VON were looking to develop a product for a wider market than would typically be reached by produce from a vegan organic farm. I don’t quite remember my particular motives (power, money?), but I thought I was well placed in London to distribute such a product.
Organising a new batch of flour from the 2013 harvest has been quite straightforward. John Berry, the VON grower at Rufford Farm in Sussex who provided grain for the first run earlier this year, communicated grain availability at a preferential price at the beginning of September and offered as much as we wished for.
After harvest there were a couple of nervous weeks as John waited for the grain to dry. Meanwhile I contacted an organic farm in Suffolk on the off chance that they’d be willing to mill for us. I had no prior connection to this farm but found the contact amenable and they were willing to mill our grain.
By the end of September John Berry had engaged the heater on his drying fan and got the grain dried below the magic 15% moisture threshold. The wheels set in motion, we collected 125kgs of wheat and transported it to Suffolk in a hatchback car. The grain was dropped off conveniently just a few miles from my parents’ house, and collected the week after in large flour sacks. The job done perfectly, a big thanks must go out to Mike and all at Maple Farm Organics, and to John & Denise Berry for growing the wonderful grain!
Our yield is 20 one kilo bags and about 158 half kilo bags. As you can see they look fetching with front and back labels designed between us in London and Manchester.
Test bakes with the Rufford Farm flour produced great results. Our first London outlets are Mother Earth health stores in North London the Black Cat vegan café & shop in Hackney and market stalls in Leytonstone and Walthamstow run by Organiclea.
We didn’t expect a wheat grown with no chemical assistance would perform so well with modern quick-yeast bread making, but the flour turned out a unique loaf with no crumbling and a lovely moistness which may be due to its freshness. Sourdough bread was equally satisfactory as were the delicious cakes.
Establishing this product in stores has strong potential for expanding VON’s membership. GGI is a quality publication backed up by a range of printed and visual media, giving vegan organics an accessible body of knowledge with lively material on a variety of subjects. Exposure to a range of people buying food consciously and ethically enables us to give more people the opportunity to support and benefit from VON’s work.
Ask for veganically grown flour and other items when you shop. With the exceptions above it is most unlikely they will have any . You can then ask the manager if they will ask their suppliers for food veganically grown. You can refer them to VON if they query this.