May 2022 marks the 1 year anniversary of our mill. As we look back over the last year, and the journey leading up to it, we feel very thankful.
Our decision to open an organic, stone-ground flour mill near Calgary was rooted in a desire to promote organic, sustainable agriculture, and to provide nutrient dense grains that support digestive health. In choosing the name "The Scottish Mill" we drew from part of our family history - the Lindsay family - to honour the traditions and hard work that have shaped us and that define us moving forward. The Lindsay clan's motto is Endure with Strength. This attitude characterizes the pioneering spirit that has built our region and that continues in the farmers and small businesses that we interact with daily. The relationships we've begun to form over the past year with growers, bakers and consumers, is making this journey rewarding, and encouraging us to "endure with strength".
Organic, Sustainable Agriculture
It is a privilege to purchase grains directly from farmers. Organic and sustainable agriculture places value on the product and on the land these growers are stewarding. They develop practices to achieve high nutrient density in their crops and to rebuild the soil they are growing on - supporting the soil ecosystem, reducing the need for water and fertilizer inputs, and promoting biodiversity. This may involve processes such as crop rotation, cover-cropping, introducing mycorrhizal fungi and growing varieties with deep root systems. These farmers have a close relationship with their land and carefully monitor the soil health, adjusting their practices as needed. This type of learning process requires commitment, endurance and patience. By purchasing directly from these growers, they have the opportunity to bring the flavour and nutrition that they have skillfully developed directly to consumers rather than becoming an anonymous portion of a larger grain pool.
Landrace and Heritage Crops
Heritage grains have always played a very important role in diets around the world. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, obtained by extensive root systems that can access nutrients deep within the soil. These same root systems allow the crops to access water when the surface soil is dry, decreasing the need for irrigation. Landrace plants have adapted to the local environment that they are grown in, representing diversity and adaptability in their genome that is extremely valuable when facing fluctuation or gradual change in the growing conditions. In landrace grains alone, we see a living picture of endurance with strength. Heritage grains are also prized for their digestibility. The number of people experiencing discomfort or other health problems associated with digesting gluten is increasing. However, many people find the gluten structure found in heritage and ancient grains can be comfortably digested, particularly when combined with traditional practices such as slow fermentation or sourdough. This is exciting to us! Rather than moving down a road of increasing restrictions, there's an opportunity to expand dietary options and enjoy flavours, textures and nutrition that many people may believe they no longer can.
We are committed to the traditional practice of stone-milling. Scotland has a rich history in both windmills and watermills. Preston Mill, the oldest remaining watermill in Scotland, has been at its site in East Lothian since the 16th century. While the machinery found at our Granary Road mill looks much different from the historical building and waterwheel seen at Preston Mill, the physical millstone and the way the grain is processed remain unchanged. This enduring historical practice is worth preserving. Stone-milling combines all part of the grain, including the bran (rich in fibre), starchy endosperm, and germ (packed with vitamins, healthy oils and flavour). Stone-milling also processes the grain at low temperatures to preserve important enzymes that help with the fermentation and digestion of the grain. Many artisan bakers are seeking out stoneground flour once again for the texture, flavour and nutrition in provides.
Just as its a privilege to purchase directly from growers, it's also a privilege to form relationships with local bakers and to connect them to the grains and growers in our region. Alberta is rich in artisanal bakers - creating hand crafted sourdough breads and pastries that become special parts of your family gatherings or morning coffee traditions. Increasingly, these bakers are looking for authenticity in their product and are paying attention to the rich and variable flavour of the grains and flours they are using. This can be difficult, as individual crops of grain vary in flavour and baking characteristics. It can also be very rewarding, as the baker is invited to respond to the season and personality of the land around them. It takes patience, strength, and endurance to develop their craft and to grow their business. We are learning from the bakers we're interacting with and look forward to growing on this journey with them.
We have found that most of life requires strong endurance. This is part of running the race of life. Many times we've found our own strength doesn't cut it, and we have needed to find a source of strength greater than our own. Keep watching our blog to learn more about the race that we have run.
Where do you find your strength?