An Anglesey farmer is to open an artisan flour mill in the autumn, which will supply local craft bakers with wheat and barley flour.
Huw Owen, of Bodelwa Farm, Ty Croes, is investing £80,000 in a small Austrian-made stone mill, with funding support from the island’s regeneration agency Mentor Mon, which will be used to make flour from crops grown on his farm. A small oil press for making rapeseed oil will also be included at the facility.
Traditionally, Owen has grown feed-quality grain for sale to local cattle farmers, but this year he has drilled additional mill varieties. Of the 250 acres of arable, 15 acres have been put down to oil seed rape, 18 acres to mill wheat, five acres to naked barley (without hulls) and three acres to linseed.
Bethesda bakery Popty Cae Groes already makes a popular barley bread and is keen to work with Bodelwa in the future, with other local bakeries also interested in sourcing locally-produced flour.
Anglesey was known as ‘the bread basket of Wales’ before the Second World War, due to its large arable farms and windmills, but the post-war arrival of subsidies saw a dramatic switch from crops to livestock.
Owen hopes to revive the island’s former glories with the new business, while receiving a better return for his crops.
He said: “Selling on the commodity markets is a bit of a rollercoaster. One year you can get £180/tonne for barley and the next the price has dropped to £80, which hardly covers your costs. So this project is an attempt to stabilise the business and take greater control.”