200 year old Cotswold mill with pioneering soil health initiative

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Matthews Cotswold Flour is one of the UK’s oldest family-run flour mills, having had a milling and trading legacy spanning eight generations since the 19th century.

The mill, based in Chipping Norton, specializes in time-honored grinding techniques, but has a mission to get their organic and stone-ground whole wheat flours into a 21-inch millNSCentury thinking by supporting sustainable food sources.

Through the Cotswold Grain Partnership, the company works with local farmers to grow in sustainable ways that protect the soil and develop wildlife. By giving back some of the profits to farmers, it is able to support regenerative farming practices and increase the use of these methods by all of its suppliers.

“I would like to assume that my family will continue this tradition for many years to come and that’s why we are committed to working in partnership with our local farmers to ensure that our business helps maintain the fertility of the soil for future generations , “said MD Bertie Matthews.

“It has been widely reported that if we continue to allow soil deterioration in industrial farming systems, we may only have 50 crops left.

“We want to do everything we can to change this perspective. That’s why we founded the Cotswold Grain Partnership to help our local farmers who are ready to use regenerative farming methods such as diversification, the use of natural fertilizers, crop rotation and reduced plowing. “

Matthews added that the industry’s mantra in the past has been to make as much generic flour as possible for as little as possible. This is no longer a sustainable business model.

The Cotswold Grain Partnership brings together a broad network of local farmers who grow a wide variety of grains, including old or traditional grains.

“Moving away from intensive farming practices is the first step in protecting the health of our soil, which is fundamental to the future of agriculture in our region.”said Matthew.

“But there are many other advantages. Diversification makes it possible to reduce dependence on chemical fertilizers, offsets the risks of poor harvests for each type of grain, and creates an improved habitat for wildlife. “

Win: win

The Cotswold Grain Partnership is an offshoot of a meeting between Matthews and neighbor Ian Wilkinson, the founder of Farm ED, a nonprofit that aims to inspire and educate people to build sustainable agriculture and food systems that feed and regenerate the planet.

Over the past eight years, Wilkinson has switched its intensive monoculture practices to a complex rotation of deeply rooted herb layers, animal grazing and natural fertilization on its 107 acre Cotswold farm. The resulting improved soil health on the farm results in high quality crops, animal-friendly habitats, and greater carbon sequestration in the soil, also known as carbon sequestration.

We have to shake it up

Wilkinson said that around 5 million hectares of wheat are effectively grown as individual varieties in the UK. These monoculture systems lose carbon to the atmosphere.

“The carbon in the soil holds the soil together and holds the moisture in it. Any carbon we convert into CO. release2 Warms the planet and makes the situation worse. ” said Wilkinson.

“A wider choice of resilient, resilient grain crops will be critical to our food supplies in a future of climate change. By creating the demand for such a variety of grains, Matthews Cotswold Flour is helping our local farmers switch to more sustainable practices. ”

The initiative also benefits the plant’s customers“Beyond the satisfaction of knowing that your flour is produced in an environmentally friendly way”.

Matthews said the variety of grains on offer puts the mill at the forefront of the specialized flour market and allows for a much wider distribution of aged grain and mixes for the country’s artisanal sector. The mill currently offers an assortment of over 30 different mixes for professional and home bakers via its online shop as well as retail and wholesale.

“This gives you access to an unparalleled range of flours that make a wide variety of fabulous tasting, nutritious casseroles. Everyone benefits.

He added, “We know we are only at the beginning of our sustainability journey, but by recognizing that soil health is fundamental to our business and has made maintaining it a part of our core strategy, we believe that we are already doing great things in protecting our soils Have made progress for future generations. “


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