The craft of stone milling has been forgotten. To re-vive this lost art we read a lot of books. Study academic papers on the history of wheat and search ancient art for clues and techniques. And of course we make a lot of mistakes and learn from those.
But our best source of knowledge comes from other modern millers. All over North America, small scale stonemills and local grain economies are popping up as alternatives sources of flour. And this small group of millers and grain farmers is slowly recovering the pieces of the craft.
Back in February I visited Fol Epi, a stonemill and bakery started by Cliff Leir. Cliff has been milling and baking for more than 15 years. Compared to what Cliff is doing we are just miller-babies. He designed his own mill and the big flakes of bran in his whole wheat flour mean that his stones are perfectly dressed. His Canadian grown wheat is kept in silos out back, milled daily, and turned into about two hundred rustic baguettes and rounds everyday. Cliff was kind enough to answer my questions about milling and share some tricks of the trade. But mostly, he supplied a big dose of inspiration for what our little mill could be someday.
If you every find yourself within even one hundred miles of Victoria, BC, find a way to make a pilgrimage to Fol Epi.