Lammas Fayre Flour by John Letts
View Lammas Fayre Flour
Many visitors have been asking for John Letts’s very special range of heritage and ancient English organic flours. We worked closely with John for a number of years to bring these unique flours to you. But, after some difficulties in milling capacity, John has established a partnership with Shipton Mill to mill two of the most popular flours on a not-for-profit basis in order to support a new charity established to encourage the growing of heritage grains.
Heritage wheats are varieties that were grown before the introduction of intensive, scientific plant breeding in the early 1900s. Hybridisation and intensive plant breeding led to a massive decline in genetic diversity in crops, which when combined with the addition of dwarfing genes into wheat in the 1960s led to the (not very) ‘green revolution’. The industrialisation of grain production that followed has hugely increased the carbon footprint of flour and bread, and caused a catastrophic decline in biodiversity in farmers’s fields. Almost all of the grain now used for baking is grown from a handful of modern, hybrid varieties with short stems and shallow root systems which cannot deal with poor weather or adapt to climate change. They depend on intensive cultivation, artificial fertilisers, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides to grow well.
In contrast, our ancestors grew hardy ‘land race’ crops with large roots systems that were well adapted to growing in difficult conditions. They were genetically diverse and therefore resilient, reliable and adaptable. Sadly, much of this diversity was lost in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and most of the ‘heritage’ varieties that are now becoming popular with artisan bakers have also lost much of their original diversity. However, these lines can be mixed to create heritage ‘populations’ that mimic the resilient land races that were grown in the past.
Over two decades, John has collected a wide range of old and ancient cereal varieties from gene banks and farmers from around the world and grown them on farms throughout Southern England. His heritage populations produce a delicious, high quality flour that is perfect for artisan-style baking. It can also be used in bread machines. Anyone can now use this flour to recreate the taste of the past. Bread made with heritage grain flour and baked using a traditional sourdough method is also less problematic for people with gluten intolerance.
The grain used to create this flour was grown at Broadfield Farm just a few kilometres from the mill in Tetbury, Gloucs. Initially, roller-milled white and stoneground wholemeal flour will be available in both 1 kg and 16 kg.