As the revival of traditional artisan baking goes from strength to strength, our mills have become busy. We still compete with more established millers, who in some cases, might be paying less than is needed to encourage farmers to grow milling grain. We have to constantly remind ourselves that it is the farmer who is exposed to all the initial costs and risks; the several years of soil preparation, the purchase of good seed, time and machinery, the uncertainty of weather patterns. He has to be rewarded.
We think it might be time to re-consider the steadying benefits that were offered to farmers, millers, bakers, consumers, by the Assizes of Bread. This was a ‘protectionist’ scheme worked by local Mayors that fixed the price of grain, grown in or bought into, their districts. The object of the scheme was to ensure that Farmers, Millers, Bakers and Consumers all got a fair deal. Surprisingly, the scheme continued in various forms from the middle-ages right through to the 1860’s (in parts of Oxfordshire).
It was a complex scheme to police, but with self-sufficiency and climate change in mind, there just may be something to learn from it. We think it would make a worthwhile research programme for someone interested in national food resilience and capable with a computer. How might the best parts of the Assizes might be re- introduced into our economy?
Keeping a weather eye on the wheat and hoping for an extended spell of sunshine is farmer and miller Philip Trevelyan, of Yorkshire Organic Millers. He produces organic lamb and small amounts of cereals, including organic wheat grown on the farm since 1975 and milled on the premises since 2005. Other wheat milled by Philip comes from organic suppliers within a 30-mile radius in North and East Yorkshire, at Driffield, Pickering and Whitby. Read more...
The journey of an artisan loaf begins with farmer Philip Trevelyan. Picture: Tony Bartholomew[