Our buckwheat is grown and milled on our family farm in the heart of Devon.
In 2020 we are launching our buckwheat flour, grown and milled on our family farm in the heart of Devon. The project has been slowly developing over a number of years…
We first encountered buckwheat when we saw it growing, and stored as “grain” in Poul Fetan, a restored 18th century village in Brittany. We toured around the countryside, looking over the hedges and examining the crops, as farmers tend to do on holiday, and we noticed a few fields of buckwheat dotted amongst the modern crops.
On our return to the UK we started doing online research into the cultivation and uses of buckwheat. We discovered the high nutritional value of the gluten free pseudo cereal and were intrigued that there were a plethora of buckwheat recipes from Europe, Asia, and America, but none from the UK.
This begs the question as to why was it has not been more widely eaten in Britain, a question to which we can only offer the answer that we suppose it is because historically it has not been grown as a crop.
We planted our first buckwheat in 2010 - in a field at Court Hayes. After a few more years of growing small fields of the crop, we were confident that we could grow, and more crucially harvest it. Effectively, buckwheat has to be grown organically as it does not respond well to nitrogen fertilisers and can’t be kept weed free with herbicides. Unlike other combinable crops it is indeterminate, meaning it is still flowering when some seed is already ripe which makes for difficult combining, especially as it is late to harvest, and the “grain” will always need to be dried and cleaned of weed seed.
We used a tabletop mill to produce some flour from our early crops and experimented with making pancakes. This initial flour was quite dark and a bit gritty due to the limitations of the mill, and it is apparent from comments made to us and that we have read, that some of the buckwheat flours available in Britain and the USA have a bitter taste.
To answer this we turned to the experience of French millers who are part of the movement that has seen a growing awareness of local provenance and ‘terroir’, and in 2019 took the plunge and ordered a mill with granite stones and a sifting mechanism made near the French Alps. Given the cost of buying the equipment and adapting a former dairy building as our mill, we breathed a sigh of relief when it produced a high quality flour, with a large proportion of the husk removed.
Not withstanding the cost of the equipment, we have decided it will only be used to process and mill buckwheat, and as we are in control of everything from planting the seed to packing the bags, we are certain that the natural gluten free status of our buckwheat has been maintained.
We have continued to experiment with the milling and re-milling process and we are now producing a flour that we really like, which is very soft, but still characterful and works well in the recipes we have tried. We have included successful recipes on our website and will be adding others as we expand our repertoire.
We hope that you will enjoy experimenting with our product and would welcome your recipes and feedback.