All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024

Starting from scratch – County connects farmers with bakers

Stonemill_CropsIt all started in a field of sunflowers.

Stonemill Bakehouse president Gottfried Boehringer

Stonemill Bakehouse president Gottfried Boehringer

On a visit to Prince Edward County, Stonemill Bakehouse president Gottfried Boehringer came across a field of sunflowers that were being grown for birdseed and decoration.

As a leading Canadian baker of natural, healthy artisan breads, Stonemill had until then needed to source much of its sunflower seed from the Prairies, the US or even abroad.

“I thought, ‘this is crazy.’ Here we have sunflowers which we can’t buy for our bread, because the infrastructure’s not there. I just didn’t think it made sense.”

On the heels of a 2007 study that identified ways the company could reduce its environmental impact, Stonemill had searched for ways it could source grains locally.

“It was very difficult,” Boehringer said. “The supply chain for local grains had really evaporated, so we had to find a way to recreate it.”

Stonemill Bakehouse decided to take the unusual step of buying a farm in the County so that it could grow its own grain.

The aim, Boehringer said, is “to be a catalyst for the creation of a local infrastructure that connects farmers directly with bakeries and ultimately, consumers.”

He said it’s all part of the quest by the Toronto-based bakery to lower its carbon footprint.

“Growing grain not far from its bakery will allow Stonemill to greatly reduce CO² emissions associated with the transport of its grain from the Prairies. It also enables Stonemill to grow high quality grains that are free of herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Although this is a more costly pursuit in terms of dollars and cents, I’m confident it’s the right thing to do for countless other reasons.”

The 100-acre farm harvested a small test crop of rye last fall and Boehringer expects to harvest 100-tonnes of rye this fall.

The initiative, he says, is unique among major north American bakeries and is based on a European model in which farmers grow grain under contract with local bakeries.

“Our efforts to source locally will connect us more deeply to the farmers,” says Boehringer.

Stonemill’s grain-growing initiative in Prince Edward County helps bring back a tradition that dates back to the early 1800s, when grain was first grown in the county before being replaced by dairy, fruit and vegetable farming, says Grace Nyman, community development co-ordinator in the County.

“Rye’s gone by the wayside here, but now it’s coming back,” says farmer Drew Harrison, who has been contracted by Stonemill to grow its rye. “I think it’s going to take off,” says Harrison, whose great-grandfather used to grow rye in the county.

Stonemill has just created a new artisan bread that contains rye from the successful test crop grown for Stonemill in partnership with the Cherryvale Organic Farm in Cherry Valley.


Farm photos from Stonemill Bakery.

This bread is inspired by a recipe from Boehringer’s childhood in a small German town, where he watched farm women bake bread at a wood-fired bakehouse.

“That bread was one of the best I ever had,” he says, adding that Stonemill is using the same ingredients and a similar recipe for its Prince Edward County Rye Bread.

On major Ontario grocers’ store shelves by Thanksgiving 2013, Stonemill’s Prince Edward County Rye Bread also contains spelt flour, sunflower seeds and oats – all ingredients Stonemill plans to grow in the County.

“Ultimately, our goal is to source most – if not all – our ingredients locally, within the next five years,” Boehringer says. This will be a big step towards leaving a smaller footprint.”

As their ambitious plans to source ingredients locally continue to take root, Stonemill is hoping to plough the way for a category-wide movement toward “low impact farming”.

By 2018, Stonemill aims to contract more than 2,000 acres for local, sustainable and GMO-free grains in collaboration with local farmers, in a continued effort to further decrease their CO2 emissions by reducing the transportation of raw ingredients.

“We encourage other like-minded organizations to join our journey so we can all share what the local land has to offer,” adds Boehringer. “Together, we can grow sustainable ingredients that don’t have to be trucked in from miles away.”

Celebration in Toronto featuring rye inspired hors d'oeuvres by Jamie Kennedy

Celebration in Toronto featuring rye inspired hors d’oeuvres by Jamie Kennedy – David Cyr photo


Filed Under: Featured Articles

About the Author:

RSSComments (2)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Heather says:

    Great news for the County!

  2. Renee says:

    Fantastic news!

OPP reports
lottery winners
Elizabeth Crombie Janice-Lewandoski
Home Hardware Picton Sharon Armitage

© Copyright Prince Edward County News 2024 • All rights reserved.