Posted on: Monday, August 6, 2018
Welcome to the Staple Food Revolution! This is our first blog, an introduction to our awesome and beloved mill and what we do here. In future posts, you will find great detail about our delicious products, our partners, and our endless antics in pursuit of regional organic milling. At Shagbark, we focus open pollinated, heirloom varieties because they offer superior flavor and seed that can be saved year after year.
The disappearance of local flour mills
Take a look at an Ohio map—or any state, for that matter—and you will see the word ‘mill’ repeat for town names and road names. In our county, you’ll see Mill Street, Mill Village, Mill School Road, Mill Creek Road, and the town of Millfield—the list goes on. The memories and remnants of mills are all around us, or at best, are sitting in a barn on a farm producing product for a few, or running thousands of tons of white flour daily for big box grocers who put out their own crackers and other processed food at a scale that relies on crop coming in from all over the country, or even the world.
Shagbark is different. We learned early on how rare it is to find a regionally owned and operated mill that works with farmers in the region to grow the corn, wheat, and other crops that grow best for the local climate and soil. Back in 2010, we decided to add Shagbark to the already unique tapestry of the Athens local food scene. We set out to be accessible to our community and region.
We say “accessible” because we love working with farmers, chefs, grocers, and those organizations (link) who are working to revolutionize grains and beans to ensure high nutrition grains and beans are widely available not only at your local grocer, but also through school meals, food pantries, and other food access programs. We also pay premium for organic grain and bean crops to the family farms we work with, and use our unique equipment to clean the open pollinated heirloom seed they need for planting each season.
Our cleaning process is especially fascinating to watch. We put all grain, buckwheat, and dry beans, through our fanning mill, which uses multiple screens to separate the clean crop from the miscellanea that come in with the harvest like straw, grass, weed seed, and dirt—even the occasional grasshopper wing—"waste" that's all funneled to bags that are offered up for as animal/chicken feed and bedding. The cleaned crop is then put in bulk bags, awaiting orders from our customers before being milled and bagged. Wanna see what we’re talking about?
Learn about us
We offer group tours for organizations and schools, and we welcome your inquiries. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more. We aim to show that re-localizing mills create the kind of infrastructure every community needs now —and the future—not just signs of days gone by.