Meet the Farmer Bakers! From Grain to Sourdough Bread!

Food and DietFood FreedomGrowing FoodPeople Doing Good / Features

A sourdough bread made from one location—the garden and home. It really makes you think, doesn’t it? Bread from one source. A whole food. How many separate facilities are involved with the creation of a “normal” slice of bread? You’ve got the growers, the shippers, the millers … and that’s just the start! “Farmer Bakers” Ralph and Kim do it all themselves to make wholesome loaves an art form on the home craft front in France.

The two farmers sow 13 heirloom varieties of wheat in their fields, each seed adapted to the region so that one shared result is that all plants require no irrigation because they are in their particular ecological niche. Choosing to work with seeds adapted to the climate and conditions makes a healthier plant and ultimately uses less resources and requires less work because the conditions for growth and health are naturally provided by nature. The variety of wheats not only makes for a tastier bread, but also lessens the burden on the land. Monocrops are notorious for attacks by pests and soil nutrient leaching. By choosing to plant a variety and planting just what they need for their own home enterprise, the farmers are protecting their harvest and their earth.    

Eschewing pesticides and chemical fertilizers, the pair tend their plants naturally. The wheat is strong but delicate looking, healthy. With no chemical byproducts and no reason to pick a “sturdy” grain for shipping and shelf-life, with no shipping, with no bleaching, the pair have found the grain of heirloom varieties is more nutritious, tastier, and easier to digest than modern industrial wheat. Smarter farming practices mean a product that is better for you, as well as better tasting.

After the grain is gathered, bakers Ralph and Kim mill the whole grains into flour by hand in a water process. The bread is also mixed, kneaded, and baked by hand using a traditional method and recipe. Making these loaves is truly a hand-crafted, hands-on adventure! Ralph and Kim love the process, all of it, up to rolling the dough in grains at the end to give it that nubby texture.

The sourdough itself is made from a living culture. The sourdough culture pre-digests the grains, making it even healthier, for one reason by making it easier to digest and thus making it possible to absorb more nutrients. Wild yeast and bacteria is naturally present on the grains and in the air, so no added yeast is needed to make the bread rise.

In the end, the sourdough bread is sold to the community. This delicious food staple is proof that alternatives exist to the broken industrial food system. Ralph and Kim have found a way to make bread a true home craft, skipping the middlemen whose product can be truly middle of the road. This way, the pair of farmer/bakers know the quality of the grain they are using and can depend on the quality of the loaf every time. Which customers appreciate. The bread itself, purchased in person, helps their customers rethink their relationship with food experientially. To health and good taste.  

This article was written by Elizabeth Drisko.

Learn more and follow La Pelle Des Coyotes. They are part of the Grain&Sens community near Valence, France.

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Thank you to Guerrilla Foundation for funding this video of solutions.

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