Red Hen partners with Le Moulin des Cedres, from the Times-Argus

5 roller mill at Le Moulin des Cedres
All our wheat will be grown regionally in 2015!
November 21, 2014
dewavrins farm in spring 2015
News from the fields
May 12, 2016
white flour from le moulin des cedres
white flour from le moulin des cedresRed Hen Baking is teaming up with a Canadian farm to get all the certified organic flour for its many breads within a 150-mile radius.

Randy George, co-owner of the Middlesex bakery with his wife, Eliza Cain, said Tuesday he first met Loïc Dewavrin, who runs the farm with his two bothers Thomas and Côme, at a conference for the Northern Grain Growers Association nearly three years ago. The Les Fermes Longpres farm is in Les Cedre, Quebec. They grow sunflowers, corn, soybeans and, most importantly from George’s point of view, wheat.

George said Dewavrin gave a presentation about their farm at the conference three years ago, and last year George was invited to visit and tour the farm.

In front of the peas at Le Moulin des Cedres“I was really impressed,” he said. “Not only with their farm, but the fact that they’ve put in a pretty sophisticated mill right there on the farm to be able to add the value to their grains right there on the farm rather than sending it off to whoever to be milled.”

The brothers constructed a roller mill, which, George said, is necessary to produce the white flour needed for breads by removing the bran and germ from the harvested wheat. He said two of the brothers are engineers so they were able to buy used parts from Europe, refurbish them and build the mill right on their Quebec farm. George said that’s very rare, as even the big flour producers like King Arthur don’t do their own milling because of the costs and opt instead to contract the work out.

5 roller mill at Le Moulin des CedresHe said the drought “added an extra level of interest” to get the partnership done with the Canadian farm, though he would have pursued it anyway.Red Hen had been working with two Vermont farms, Gleason Grains in Bridport and Aurora Farms in Charlotte, to get some organic flour locally, but George said most of the organic flour the bakery was using comes from the Midwest. That part of the country has been experiencing a severe drought, which George said has increased the price of organic grain and strained the supplies. He said it has forced some mills to import their flour from as far away as South America.Currently only about 10 to 15 percent of the flour George uses comes from the Midwest, with the remainder coming from Canada and farms here in Vermont. That 10 to 15 percent will be replaced by Canadian flour this fall.

When considering grain producing regions, the Northeast probably isn’t the first location to come to mind, and George admitted it can be difficult to grow grain here. He said wheat needs dry conditions in summertime to grow well — though not as dry as the American heartland is currently experiencing — and summer, of course, can be wet here in New England and Quebec. It’s a legitimate, if ironic, concern for George as he consolidates the sources of his flour to this area.

Undaunted, though, George notes that the grain growers associations has been working with farmers on developing strains of wheat that work better in this northeastern climate and are trying to develop techniques to minimize the risk of crop failure from rainfall.

Dewavrin said Tuesday that in the 20 years he’s been growing wheat, he has seen some lesser yields because of rainfall, but he’s always been able to produce a quality harvest. He said the soil in his part of Quebec is very good, perhaps even better than out west.

Dewavrin explained his new partnership with Red Hen from his own perspective. In his earlier years of farming, his family’s wheat harvest was mixed in with wheat from other farms north of the border, diminishing its uniqueness. The Dewavrin family decided to build their own mill to reclaim that sense of identity and to assert more control in their business by shipping their flour directly to their customers. Now, those customers include the Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex, the very first U.S. venture for the farming family from Quebec.

Dewavrin explained his choice of Red Hen for his first partnership in the states: Their shared values — a dedication to organic agricultural practices and environmental consciousness.

 

8 Comments

  1. Polly timkem says:

    I tried to buy your pizza crust today, Thursday, at the Co-Op in Hartford VT and Jake’s in Quechee with no luck. Are you no longer selling the pizza crust?

    • Brian Maher says:

      Hi Polly,
      We are definitely still making the Pizzaz. We only deliver one or two to the Co-op, we don’t sell a ton there, but Jake’s gets 4 every Friday, and I’m sure either store would be happy to special order some if you want to guarantee your Pizza Friday is a success.
      Thanks!

    • Arjhen says:

      Hi Brie,Good for you…there’s nothing like haemmode bread! When I was in high school…way back in the “olden days” (I graduated in ’76) we lived on a dairy farm and I made 10 loaves of whole wheat bread about every two weeks. It was an all day chore and I loved it. Anyway, I’ve continued to make bread, in smaller batches, over the years and somewhere along the line I learned that wheat germ (I use raw) helps to keep whole grain breads from getting too dense. I replace approx. 1 cup of ww flour with 1 cup of wheat germ per loaf and it works well. At one point in my life when we were especially busy, I considered getting a bread making machine. A friend lent me theirs so I could try it out before buying one. Well, what I found was that with all the whisltles and bells and whirring of the machine, I felt like a helicoptor was about to take off on my kitchen counter! And then, when it was done I didn’t feel like it was MY bread…as in, the work of my own hands. So there’s one trick, wheat germ; and one tip, don’t be tempted to get a bread making machine…especially if you enjoy the process as well as the finished product.Happy Bread-making!

  2. stuart itter says:

    Hi Guys. Driven many a mile for regular supply of Red Hen bread. Know there have been various doings over the past few years: in/out/in at Brattleboro Coop, organic/not organic/organic flour etc. Guess that this has impacted Red Hen bread pricing. My nearby outlet in Londonderry, Vermont is selling the loaf I prefer, Mad River multi grain, at almost $7. a loaf. The loaf is not that big and even sliced thin it does not get through that many meals for the price. Whoa! I cannot afford anything like that. Is there anything you can do? Or, is this ‘parting is such sweet sorrow.” Thanks, Cheers.

    • Brian Maher says:

      Hi Stuart,
      Thanks for letting us know what’s going on. We held the price of the Mad River Grain steady for a few years but finally had to bite the bullet and raise the price to reflect the exorbitant price of organic seeds. The sunflower and flax seeds are especially pricey. I wish there was something we could do to bring the price down but, as hard as it may be to believe, we’re not making a huge margin on the Mad River Grain. The bread has always been organic and always will be, and the price of organic ingredients continues to climb. I might suggest a couple of our other loaves- the Crossett Hill has a comparable flavor profile except for the seeds, and the Pain au Levain also has a similar whole grain percentage. Both loaves are a little less than $5, about what we could charge for the Mad River Grain if it weren’t for the seeds. I hope you’ll find one of these to your liking, please let us know how it goes.
      Thanks,
      Brian Maher
      Wholesale Sales Manager

      • Enrico says:

        I have been making bread for years, but this year I began minillg my own grain. Freshly ground wheat is heads and tails above whole wheat flour in taste and nutrition, but it also has more of the fiber solids, so recipes sometimes need to be adjusted up in flour and water amounts. I am learning that whole wheat sometimes needs some additional knead time (I knead by hand, partly because I prefer the texture of hand-kneaded over machine kneaded dough, but also because freshly milled flour creates a very stiff dough that the experts say will burn out a KitchenAid stand mixer); I have been kneading for closer to 20 mins instead of 10, and I allow more time for the final rise before I bake, and my results have been lighter bread without adding dough conditioners. A good book about bread making can be really helpful, as it can give you tips on how to troubleshoot your recipe, how the dough develops, etc.

  3. dianne says:

    I had the fig ansine roll last year at the cheese festival at shelburne farm. I havent been to the store i live in lake placid ny do you ship

    • Brian Maher says:

      Hi Dianne,
      We don’t like to ship bread because we don’t feel right having you pay an exorbitant amount for shipping in order to receive 2 or 3 day old bread. Next time you’re in town come by the bakery, or maybe we’ll see you at one of the local Farmer’s Markets or the Chessemaker’s Festival.
      Thank you,
      Brian Maher
      Wholesale Sales Manager

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