I recently met a brilliant guy called Edward Gallia, a man as passionate about the environment and producing flour as I am about food and teaching. We met during the launch of Dorset Food week in Dorchester, in the bustling highstreet of Eat Street Market. He introduced me to his unique flour product grown and harvested on his farm near Cerne Abbas, we instantly connected and before long I was being shown round his beautiful farm:
Welcome to Cerne farm, a place of calm, beauty and healing. The farm is in a stunning location, set either side of the Cerne Valley two miles south of Cerne Abbas, in an area of outstanding natural beauty. It has been an inspiration for artists through generations.
We actively manage and have created habitats such as the river Cerne, downland, woodland and field margins for wildlife…As a result, our fields sing to the tune of abundant yellowhammers, skylarks, song thrushes and bumblebees. Numerous brown hares, roe deer and badgers roam the farm, which is home to over 320 species of animal including beautiful barn owls.
We grow our crops with care, attention to detail and with the protection of habitats in mind…
It was a grounding experience for me, where Edward showed me the sprouting crop, explained farming methods and the harvesting process – how the raw grain is stored, graded and processed into wholemeal flour. I was aware of the milling process but had not seen the process in its entirety, this was fasinating as a chef.
It has come to my attention that a contributing factor of those allergic or reactive to glutenous diets might have suffered due to eating badly made and processed products. Largescale modern breadmaking methods produce loaves in under 20 minutes from start to finsh, producing a gluey product that quite frankly our intestines reject as nurishing. I wonder whether if loaves were made in the traditional way, taking 1-3 hours to make, bake and cool, there would be as many that declare themselves intolerant to gluten. The thing is the traditional method works the raw gluten and the yeast is given time to lighten the texture.
I am a huge fan of Nether Cern flour. White Pepper is actively incorporating it into our menus and workshops. I will certainly go back to the farm very soon, not only to pick up some more bags of flour but also because I cant neglect the fact that Edward has a wild brown trout stream running through the farm! Where is my 7 foot fly rod?