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Growing and Research

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Growing an Improved Grain Supply for Scotland

The long-term purpose of Scotland The Bread involves a broad coalition of farmers, millers, researchers, bakers and citizens concerned to make a staple food nourishing and available to all.

At Macbiehill Agroforestry we’re growing over forty trial plots of wheat, spelt, emmer, oats, rye and barley. Some of them are historic Scottish long-strawed varieties and others are selected Nordic landraces and ‘evolutionary’ mixtures with a high degree of genetic diversity.

Most of them have already been shown to have above-average nutrient content, and flour from the best of these selections is now available to buy from our website. If they grow well in the trials and make good bread, we’ll supply seed to other organic farmers to ‘bulk up’ stocks. That’s in addition to the ten tonnes or so of three 19th century Scottish wheats that we already have. 

Scotland The Bread could not have developed in the way it has without the efforts of farmers such as Angus McDowall of Mungoswells in East Lothian. Angus is both a farmer and a miller and has ‘bulked up’ the three heritage grains that Scotland The Bread has tested so far. It takes skill and care to grow, tend and store small trial crops such as these and Angus has brought enormous expertise to the task. The result is that Scotland The Bread has ten tonnes of grain that can be tested and given a full nutritional certification.

Research and testing

We will use the cutting-edge expertise of Scottish molecular scientists to tell us exactly how nutritious our new grain varieties are. Testing is expensive and will be funded in part from licence fees and royalties, with additional grant support. It’s this work that makes Scotland The Bread unique: every bag of grain or flour we develop and certify will carry an analysis of what is in it and how this differs from what is generally available. And we want to raise our minimum standards as time goes on, so Scottish flour and bread will just get better and better.

New Standard and Assurance System for Healthy Bread

We will develop a standard for the new grain, flour and bread supply chain, based on nutritional benefit and sustainable growing/production methods. It will be run in conjunction with farmers, millers and bakers, a number of whom are already participating in the project.

‘Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare’

One of Scotland The Bread’s aims is to establish ‘fair trade’ between farmers and bakers. This means paying farmers not just for the weight of wheat they produce (as at present) but rather for the amount of nutritional goodness in that wheat. If our wheat flour has more in it, we won’t need to eat so much to be truly satisfied, which in turn means that we can afford to pay more than rock bottom prices for good wheat without making really good bread ‘unaffordable’.
This article is a serious attempt to begin developing an alternative to the existing wheat commodity market. Click here to read the full paper (opens in PDF).

‘Rediscovering Wheat Diversity for the Public Good’

In September 2016, Andrew Whitley gave a lecture as part of the series ‘What’s for Dinner? The future of Food & Farming in Jersey and elsewhere.’ at the Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Showgrounds. Click here to read the full script (opens in PDF).