Supplier Series: Milmore Downs

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Here at Bellbird we only work with the best in the business, so we’re taking you along to learn more about some of our incredible suppliers!

First up is Milmore Downs, a multi-generational, certified organic grain farm located in Scargill, North Canterbury. Milmore Downs are one of our lovely flour suppliers. We asked owners, Matt and his wife Alice, to answer a few questions!

Can you describe Milmore Downs in one sentence?

Milmore downs is a 3rd generation family farm that has been producing quality organic flour since 1980. We are a business that is passionate about supplying wholesome, nutritious, organic flour to New Zealanders.

What does a typical day for you look like?

There probably isn’t a typical day for us as things change day to day. On the land we’re out checking on stock and crops, and depending on the time of year, harvesting our grain. In the mill there is always something going on; Sam, who works for us, retrieves the morning orders and works through them, and there can also be cleaning of larger lines of grain along with the local deliveries to Christchurch.

What is your favourite part about your job and why?

I think a favourite part of the job for me is seeing the process from planting the seed in the ground to seeing a bag of flour heading out to a happy customer. Also having feedback from customers saying how much they enjoy it gives me real satisfaction.

What makes you different from other flour suppliers?

What makes us different from other suppliers is we are a small family business that has direct contact with our customers. Every customer can talk to the person making their flour and I think this helps us understand their needs and make sure they are happy. We are always striving to send the best quality product out the gate.

Talk us through your process of grains to flour.

After harvest the grain is stored in a large silo. We do regular cleanings from the silos in to mill hoppers before milling. The cleaning removes anything foreign like weed seeds so only the grain is left. The grain then feeds into our mills. We have Zentrofan mills for making our wholemeal wheat spelt and rye flours, and a stone mill with a sifting box for our semi-white flour. After milling it goes to our packing room where it is packed in anywhere from 2kg to 25kg containers and dispatched to our customers.

More info about the Zentrofan mills here.

A couple of other things to note:

Me and my wife Alice are running the business in partnership with my father Ian and partner Eva. We do the day to day on the ground stuff and they look after most of the admin, and still help out a bit. We employ Sam full-time in the mill.

Also we are farming and producing flour organically as we believe this is the right way to produce food for the overall health and wellbeing of people consuming it.

Here are a few questions we answered ourselves about working with Milmore Downs.

Why do Bellbird have Milmore Downs as their flour supplier?

We use Milmore Downs’ whole wheat flour and rye flour. It’s important to note the name of the whole wheat flour (not wholemeal which is very different). This flour is milled in a way to ensure 100% extraction: the whole grain is milled to a fine flour not discarding any part of the grain. So all that goodness that usually gets taken out in the traditional milling process ends up in the flour in the Milmore milling process. This is an important part of the sourdough process as a lot of the enzymes that occur naturally in grains are retained in the flour, which in turn helps with dough fermentation, crust colour and crumb texture. We love the fact that the flour is organic and positive land management practices are being used. Healthy soil = healthy grains = healthy people! 🙏

How long have Bellbird been using Milmore Downs?

Since about 2012, just a couple of years after Bellbird’s inception! 

Which products feature their flour?

All of our sourdoughs: Rye sourdough, Seeded sourdough, Waitaha sourdough, Walnut sourdough, Porridge sourdough – sometimes in combination with Spray-free white flour from Farmers Mills.

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