The basics of home grain milling

Oat farmer Amy Nikkel co-hosted the home grain milling workshop where 2015 Festival attendees explored the how, when, why, what and where of home grain milling.

Did you know some grains cannot be milled? What about sprouted grain? 

In Amy and Pat’s session you will learn about the grains that can be milled, the type of equipment needed, when and where to source suitable grain and tips and techniques for success.

Take a look at what else they have on tap! Here are some of the other things you will see first-hand…

  • cleaning grains (separating weed seeds, chaff, etc.) 
  • using hand screens
  • de-hulling grains using various ‘household hacks’
  • grinding and rolling grains with hand mills/hand flakers.


Why learn from Amy?

Amy Nikkel is exploring what it means to put seeds in the ground, watch them stretch sunward, and then share the harvest. Although not being raised on a farm and having fewer hours logged on the tractor seat than most 10 year old farm-kids is a definite disadvantage, she is slowly learning the essential arts of not-plowing-over-fenceposts, welding, fixing machinery, and cloud-watching.

Amy, along with her husband Donald and their two young children, grows organic naked oats in between the rocks and puddles of their Interlake fields. Three years of experimentation and trial-by-error have resulted in them now having a complete seed cleaning line and grain mill where they roll their naked oats for Manitoba porridge-lovers. They find inspiration from the people who cared for the land before them, and each spring finds them foraging in asparagus patches gone feral from abandoned homesteads around their farm, and enjoying the bounty of things that grow.





Amy’s Pro Tip:

For as long as grains have been cultivated, threshing and milling them has been a collective effort (think town threshing floors and community grist mills!).  As efficient and effective as modern large-scale milling technologies are, there is something to be gained in slowing down, building connections, learning from others, and reaching out to the community around you, when you undertake the task of milling your own fresh grains!

One of Amy’s favourite books or websites on the matter:

If home milling is something that piques your curiosity, you might also be thinking of growing some of your own grains as well.  Now is the time to get started with finding seed, and Prairie Garden Seeds has a wonderful website with tons of information on heritage and nearly-forgotten varieties of quinoa, einkorn, spelt, amaranth, hulless oats, millet, flax, camilina (etc.) that are well adapted to the Canadian prairies.