A new adventure, I find myself driving across County Road 1 towards Beeton, Ontario, through a heavy but peaceful snowfall. The vast stretches of farmland and general openness make the small towns I pass seem much larger than the city I’ve left for the day.
My destination: k2 Milling. As part of
ELLICSR Kitchen's mission to provide cancer survivors with culinary and nutrition self-management education, we've been working to connect people to local agriculture and the community that feeds us. In my attempt to source out a red fife flour supplier, I came across this family run business that has been milling local grain since 1935.
When I arrive I slide open a heavy wood and metal door and am immediately transported into a different era. Large beams span across the ceiling, artifacts of old milling equipment stand on display, and the smell of toasted grain welcomes me in. I am greeted by miller and k2 owner Mark Hayoe, who has graciously offered to take time from his milling duties to teach me about his mill and the ever-changing industry that has been a big part of his life.
We stand beside the cast iron stove to stay warm. As he chucks a few more pieces of wood into its fiery belly, he explains how the once thriving grain milling industry has been whittled down to fewer than 30 grain mills in Ontario. Since the 1950s there has been a shift towards growing a strain of wheat for the commercial food industry that yields more and cost less. But this type of grain and flour is utterly tasteless and nutritionally baron.
But the times are changing yet again. The demand for a better product, tastier grain, and a more environmentally sustainable wheat is on the rise. Mark has invented a unique milling process that grinds the grain so efficiently that it keeps most of its nutritional content intact. He also tells me that 90% of the flour he produces comes from within 20km of his mill, and 80% of those grains are organically grown. k2 Milling is now supplying the commercial baking and restaurant industry and the public with high quality flours from spelt, hard red wheat, hard white wheat, rye, barley, and the list goes on. Mark says the process of growing and milling these more substantial grains is more difficult and a slower process, but the end product is worth the effort.
It's clear that Mark has a passion for responsible farming and agriculture. It takes people like him to improve current food industry (did I mention he runs the entire mill and sales himself!). However, it’s the public, the voice of the consumers that will have the biggest impact for change. The more demand there is for a good local and sustainable product, the more famers and millers will respond to those needs. It’s a cyclical system that will improve the state of local agriculture and our food system as a whole.
Before leaving Mark and k2 Milling, I had to bring back some flour to test out in the ELLICSR Kitchen classes, and I have to say that there was a noticeable difference. We made some delicious recipes that you can check out below. And for more information on k2 milling and how you can buy some of his flour, we’ve listed their contact information.
120 Dayfoot Street, Beeton, Ontario
k2 Milling blog
Phone: 647 519 1194
Photos by Geremy Capone