THANKS TO reading everything they could about “crafting flours” and gaining hands-on experience of the machinery, Matt and Anne Scott are now confident enough to call themselves artisan millers.
The couple, who bought the Elizabethan mill two years ago, produce 10 types of stoneground flour for sale through their on-site shop and four specialist distributors.
Franco Tauruschio, one of Wales”s top chefs, has praised their products, and the passionate way they are perpetuating the art of milling. Their organic wholemeal flours have picked up two True Taste of Wales gold awards, and earned them three Soil Association commendations.
The husband-and-wife partnership now mill about 8t of grain each week. Somehow they also still find time to run a 24-pitch caravan and camping site adjacent to the mill and a few self-catering accommodation units.
Given the success of the mill, it is ironic that it was the tourism potential that first attracted them when they saw it advertised for sale. At the time they both worked for the Royal Mail in Gosport but wanted to run their own business.
When they made the long trek to Montgomery in mid Wales they were intrigued by the idea of running the mill as a tourist attraction in association with the holiday business.
“We now know that the mill was built in 1575 to serve the needs of an estate and much of the equipment dates back hundreds of years,” says Matt.
“It was in working order, but needed to be modified to operate independently of the somewhat irregular spring-fed water supply.”
The answer was to install electric motors to drive the French burr millstones, and use waterwheel power for the flour dresser that sifts out most of the bran to make unbleached white flour.
Research, much of it done on the internet, indicated that there was a growing market for a range of stoneground flours, including wholemeal, malted and durum.
In response to demand, the partners located a source of archaic spelt wheat to make flour suitable for consumers who cannot digest the type of gluten found in modern wheat varieties. “We have heard from delighted buyers who have bought it and started eating bread again after many years.”
Most of the grain used is sourced through a specialist agent, but about 20t a year is bought from neighbouring Bacheldre Farm, which was once part of the estate that built the mill.
“We make a traditional wholemeal flour from it, which we can rightly claim is a truly local flour, with minimum food miles and 100% Welsh. “
In time we hope to be able to offer contracts to other farmers to supply us direct, but we are always striving to produce the best so we have to be sure that we get consistent quality.”
The opportunity to see one of only two working mills in Wales draws in tourists, and about 10% of the flour produced is sold over the counter of the mill shop.
“When we started looking for a campsite to buy, we did not have Wales in mind, but now we cannot think of living anywhere else,” says Anne, who handles the business”s paperwork. The couple have benefited from Welsh Development Agency grants, and now have free access to consultants through the Agency”s Organic Development Programme.
Matt and Anne are now enthusiastic members of the Traditional Cornmillers Guild and proudly display its logo on all their packaging.