Grain in small batches

If someone mentions growing wheat, you probably think of wide expanses of fields and combine harvesters. But wheat and other cereals can be grown on a much smaller scale in a surprisingly wide range of places. The Sheffield Wheat Experiment is an intriguing project that exploits this, with hundreds of people growing relatively small amounts of wheat in their gardens, allotments or even pots. You could think of it as a distributed urban farm, using surplus land and manageable amounts of people’s time to connect them with the source of their food.

This ticks all of Loaf’s boxes and we’re going to keep a close eye on their progress with the aim of doing something similar here one day. A Stirchley Loaf made from Stirchley grain is an idea too delicious to ignore.

The Sheffield project is still quite large scale, involving many people to produce a significant amount of grain. What if you just want to grow for your own use?

Some of you with allotments may know of Charles Dowding who has become the guru of the no-dig method of growing food. Over the last year he grew 31 clumps of rye on his smallholding and in this video he takes us through the steps to turn the rye into flour for his bread. This is perfectly doable on an allotment or back garden.

Finally, here’s a photo Pete took while on a walk exploring Coventry’s ring road of some barley growing by the busy traffic. It really can grow anywhere — though you might not want to mill these grains!