Looking forward: reflections from Holly
The Grown in Totnes team have been wrapping up the project over the last few weeks as our funding ends. The three of us paid staff, Emily, Bethan and I, have now reluctantly left Transition Town Totnes in our paid capapcity. No doubt you will see us at future TTT events or at a shop selling local food near you!
What Grown in Totnes has achieved was highly ambitious and cutting edge. In the process, we have built up a wealth of experience that we want to share so that others can take on the local grain revolution with confidence! We have successfully applied for funding to produce a free interactive toolkit that will enable the user to delve into the different elements of our work; such as crowdfunding, milling equipment, processing know-how, record keeping, working with farmers, post-harvest care of crops, marketing and branding etc. The toolkit will be an honest documentation of our learnings, including the pitfalls encountered along the way. It will be designed for a range of audiences; from the casual browser to researchers, farmers or aspiring millers or bakers. It will be populated with photographs, videos, reports and technical documents produced by GinT as well as signposts to other groups, enterprises and resources. If you would like to be kept informed about the progress of the toolkit then please sign up to the TTT newsletter here.
It has been an amazing journey and it has been a meandering ol’ path that we have travelled. There have been many highlights and many challenges, and throughout it all I have remained buoyed up by the great people that I work with – those in the core team; the many volunteers who have enthusiastically pitched in; and my lovely colleagues at TTT. They have seen me euphoric with joy, and on the floor in despair. Hugs, chocolate and the odd shot of tequila have all been administered on appropriate occasions. I feel so grateful to you all. I can’t imagine a more supportive environment than that of TTT.
Personally, I am going to take a little bit of time out to digest all that has happened and to dream into where I want to place my energies in the future. To fund this little period of contemplation I am planning on renting out a room or two in my house from mid-January for a month. I also run a little B&B called Living Lightly, which demonstrates ways of holidaying with a lower impact. Breakfasts include local oats of course and I give 5% to TTT when guests are referred to me via TTT. If you know of anyone who would like to stay in Totnes over New Year, or later in the year please put them in touch.
My wish for the future is that locally grown grains and legumes become more prolific, that small-scale local mills spring up across the country and people flock to support them. I wish that people become galvanised to collaborate together to create the change that they wish to see in the world, no matter how difficult the future becomes.
May you live your dreams and thank you!
Looking forward: reflections from Emily
It’s been an absolute pleasure to go on the journey that is Grown in Totnes over the last few years. The fun we had crowdfunding for the milling equipment; the laughter we’ve shared with volunteers on milling days; the delight of seeing grains push up their shoots in farmers’ fields; and sending our products to our local shops came was akin to sending your little one off to school for the first time. Oh, and there was lots and lots of proof in the form of puddings and pies, bread and oat risottos!!
And those big conversations we’ve had, about how we feed ourselves as a community. Journalists, cooperatives and volunteers from all over the world have swung by Totnes to join the conversation in person. Several years on, it seems the conversation has sprouted a renaissance of interest in grain, beyond the commodity. There’s the UK Grain Lab & the Heritage Grain Alliance and farmers and bakers emailing us from the corners of the Isles. It’s been an honour.
So what next? After a heartening response to our July meeting and months of work to hand over Grown in Totnes to new guardians, the newly forming Dartington Mill CIC made up of The Apricot Centre, The Almond Thief and Dartington Dairy will take GinT into its next incarnation.
The Dartington Mill CIC is relocating the operation to a combination of their various existing premises to keep costs down and streamline the operation. They plan to restart milling in Spring 2019. Sales of flour and grains will be handled initially by The Apricot Centre who have existing sales channels (an online webshop, a stall at Totnes Friday market and a delivery round) and delivery logistics capabilities. The venture brings together crops grown in Dartington, milled on-site and sold to The Almond Thief bakery for their bread, to the public and to retailers. From early spring customers will be able to regularly buy a truly local sourdough loaf and local organic flour. There are plans to add more grains and possibly pulses to the offering in the medium to long-term.
Bob Mehew of the Apricot Centre will initially act as the contact point for Dartington Mill CiC. Bob will periodically email customers with news and developments, to receive these communication please email Bob: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grown in Totnes won’t be sending out any more newsletters, however, there is always exciting news from Transition Town Totnes, so please do make sure you are signed up to their newsletter which follows other great projects and affiliates.
On a more personal note, I would like to say a huge thank you to all those who have shared and supported our passion to deliver locally grown and milled staple crops. It has been amazing to learn from long standing grain enthusiasts and professionals, many of whom have dedicated decades of their life to growing, breeding, researching and baking grains and have generously shared their knowledge with us.
It has been equally energising to have the support and participation of so many people in Totnes and the surrounding area, on so many fronts. I am utterly inspired by the many volunteers who give so much to Transition Town Totnes; from years of financial advice and record keeping; professional advice from our board of trustees including legal advice; to those volunteers who will get up early on a weekend to help set up a stall at the market; those of you who stop me in the street to talk flour and tell me what you’ve just baked and your latest musings on local grains and climate change.
I have been able to turn up honestly, in my entirety, even through difficult times of losing close friends and feeling challenged by the work.
We have a very long way to go until our town or surrounding island is really resilient and some very large challenges ahead, however I feel safer and more confident about our ability to look after each other following my time at Grown in Totnes. Let us ask more questions of what we need to do next together, how we can better feed ourselves amongst future uncertainties and how life could be more delicious.