Loon Song Farm
Fresh Stone-Ground Red Fife Wheat, Rye, Oat, and Spelt Flours,and Rolled Oats
Heather Thoma and Paul Salanki of LoonSong Farm have been practicing high quality gardening and farming since 2003 and have spent the past 10 years growing oats, spelt, wheat, and rye using organic and biodynamic practices.
In 2017 Loon Song migrated from Manitoulin Island to Northumberland County in southeastern Ontario. Their crops are all planted in the hills of Northumberland and Peterborough area, between Rice Lake and Lake Ontario. Their fields are certified organic by Eco-Cert.
Loon Song Farm Flour & Milling Process
Loon Song flour is a true whole-grain flour, made from the complete grain including the bran (outer hull), endosperm (inner part containing the starch and gluten) and the germ (the embryo containing the oils and essential fatty acids). Though this is the healthiest type of flour, since it includes all of the goodness of the kernel of grain, it is not very often found. The commonly used term “whole-wheat flour” implies that all the parts of the grain kernel are included, however this actually is not often the case. Once the germ is broken open in the milling process, the oils begin to oxidize, resulting in rancidity and toxic byproducts forming in the flour if it is stored at room temperature for extended lengths of time. For over a century now flour produced by the commercial milling industry, including “whole-wheat flour”, has had the germ removed in order to produce a product that could withstand long-distance transport and maintain an extended shelf-life under ambient temperatures.
Loon Song grinds their flour on a modern European stone mill employing basalt-magnesite stones. Unlike today’s industry standard of steel roller mills, which significantly heat the flour as it is milled, stone mills (if designed and used appropriately) will grind flour without damaging heat build-up – resulting in a higher quality, healthier flour with minimal oxidation breakdown. This is especially important when grinding true whole-grain flours where the germ (along with the heat-sensitive germ oil) is included in the flour.
Loon Song Farm’s Choices of Grain Varieties
Paul and Heather consider the context surrounding their farm, the farm’s scale, and the needs of the land, as well as human nourishment when they pick varieties of grains to grow. They grow rye for the great flour it makes and also for its weed control and soil building characteristics in an organic rotation. They grow hulless oats for rolling, and though they require more care in handling, they have a better protein content and superior flavour to regular oats.
The primary wheat they grow is Red Fife. It was the first wheat brought to Canada (circa 1842), and from it a large majority of the modern varieties of hard red spring wheat grown in Canada and the US were eventually bred. Since 20th century wheat breeding focused on developing varieties that responded under chemical-based fertility systems, the lack of interest in older varieties resulted in the near extinction of Red Fife by the late 1980’s. Literally only a few pounds were left. Today however, a small but increasing number of organic farmers are choosing to grow Red Fife again. It originated from, and is well suited to organic growing methods. Its wide genetic diversity gives it good adaptability over a range of soil, fertility, and climate conditions. And it has an uncommonly rich flavour which often makes it the preferred choice for artisanal breadmakers. For more information on Red Fife, you can check out The Red Fife Story.
If you’re interested in more information about nutrition and true whole-grain flours, an interesting place to start is this McGill University study on Nutritional Characteristics of Organic, Freshly Stone-Ground, Sourdough & Conventional Breads.