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Wheat Diaries 2011

Wheat diaries 2011

Updates from people who grew it, milled it, baked it, ate it in 2011.

For the latest on Bake Your Lawn, click here.

December 2011

Because of the weather we harvested a little late and lost part of the crop. After drying out the stalks the children had a great time threshing, winnowing and grinding in an old coffee grinder. We have about 450g of flour, just enough for a loaf to share. We'll be planting again on our allotment in 2012 and hope to try and make corn dollies as well as bread.
Cardiff Woodcraft Group

We planted, grew and then harvested the wheat.  Every stem was cut with a pair of scissors and then we threshed it in pillowcases.  We borrowed a quern stone from Stainsby Mill (part of the Hardwick Estate), ground our wheat and then made a loaf.  Every child ate some of the bread and said it was lovely, in spite of saying they did not like brown bread!  The miller from Stainsby Mill came in one day and talked to all the children about the mill and the quern stone, which they found very interesting. We have thoroughly enjoyed this project and may well grow wheat again in the future.
Northfield Junior School, Derby

November 2011

We got a local baker into the school today and had an amazing day.  Thirty year four pupils took a whole day to firstly mill the wheat which we had harvested in August. Here are some photos of our planters of wheat and pigeon nest!! We grew about a kilo of wheat, so I think we did really well!!!! We used a fan on the roof and the children held the bowl of wheat and the light chaff blew away (well all over the children, which they loved) and they were left with the berries. Then they spent the rest of the day making the bread.  We made bread rolls for whole class and it was delicious. We would love to do it again next year.
Chisenhale Primary School, London

Having harvested our wheat we separated out the grain using various dubious methods, much to the amusement of a girl who speaks little English but clearly had far more idea than we did! The following week we put the grain in a coffee grinder. All went well for a while but then smoke began to come from the grinder. Perhaps we had dried our corn too much? We finally sieved out the useable flour and sent it home with the girl to use in cooking some naan bread! We now have far more admiration for those people for whom making their own bread is part of their normal day-to-day routine.
Tile Hill Wood School, nr Coventry

We are working with five local schools, giving each responsibility for a 6m x 3m plot of land. The pupils tested the soil, prepared the ground and planted the wheat by the broadcast method. They are returning during the year to monitor its growth. When ripe, they will harvest the wheat, leave it to dry, separate the wheat grains from the stems by threshing (the pillow case and the wall), winnow the grain to remove the chaff (hair dryer experiment) and grind the grain using a coffee grinder or we'll take to Greens windmill. they'll then use flour to bake wholemeal bread for tasty sandwiches or a scrummy pizza or pizzas using the Farmeco outside kitchen.
Farmeco Community Care Farm, Nottinghamshire

Our work with Farmeco has meant that our young people have had some once in a life-time experiences. They have begun to see themselves as part of a bigger picture, where they have responsibilities as well as rights; and they have begun to understand that they have a part to play in the way that our planet is shaped.  Click here to download a PDF (4mb) of pictures of the first stages.
Wings East School, Nottinghamshire

October 2011

Just to let you know that we had a fantastic morning grinding and baking here. Children from four of the schools in the Bude Friends of the Earth Local Growing schools group gathered together on Tuesday 11 October and we winnowed and ground the wheat they had grown on a saddle quern, a rotary quern and finally in an electric flour mill. We also started up the water wheel of the mill and talked to the children about how we will be able to grind flour in the mill once the wallower has been replaced and 100 wooden teeth made for the pit-wheel. We then mixed the dough (with a bit of extra flour added from Doves Farm) and the children cooked individual pieces wrapped around sticks over a fire. The rain held off, the sun came out, and the bread was yummy - especially as it was dipped in toffee! Thanks for organising the project - it was great fun.
The Bridge Mill, Devon

Growing a loaf of bread! Each class (there are four years, two classes in each year and 30 kids in each class) was involved.

April – we planted the wheat
May – July we watered the wheat
August - we went on holiday and someone else watered the wheat
September – we harvested the wheat 1, 2, 3
October – we threshed (beat it in a pillowcase against the wall until all the grain had fallen out of the husks), winnowed (blew away the chaff until only the good grain remained) and milled the wheat – in Mr Banham’s coffee grinder.

On 14th October we baked the wheat as bread and ATE IT. DELICIOUS! Maren, Kirsty, Vanessa, Shelley and Lucy all helped the garden club cooks to produce bread and cakes for the whole school.
South Haringay Junior School

Here are Jack and Charlie threshing and milling their Bake Your Lawn wheat and some of the flour we produced. And here's Charlie kneading his dough and Jack shaping his roll, made with our flour and our sourdough starter.

We had a lot of willing hands, including cousins, grandparents and aunts, so we did OK with the mortar and pestle. We didn't have a huge amount to grind and it certainly gave the children a real idea of the physical effort involved in making a loaf of bread - or in this case
some rolls! We're using a sourdough that Jack and Charlie helped make so the whole experience has been pleasurably basic and hands on. They really have been involved in every single aspect of the creation of their lunch! The rolls are proving now, I'll send photos when they're baked and eaten! We've also made some traditional plaits with the wheat, and talked a lot about it all.

The finished rolls before and after baking - home grown, home ground wheat, home made sourdough starter, salt and tap water. Unless we dig a well and evaporate our own sea salt you can't get much more home made!  They're supposed to be hedgehog shaped by the way! Well done on a great campaign and lots of fun for everyone. Here's to next years' loaf!
Sarah, home educator

Squirrels ate ours. Soooo disappointing!
Capital Growth training garden, Regent's Park, London

Here is a picture of the crop we grew at the allotment. It shows the crop just after we started to harvest it. We have arranged with a local mill for the wheat to be ground so we can use it for baking. Thank you very much for your help with this project.
Ysgol Gymraeg Treganna, Cardiff.

We grew 4 square metres of wheat, using about 100g. of seed sown in March. We harvested a reasonable size sheaf, threshed it etc. ground it up ended up with 400g of flour just enough for a loaf - and what a loaf it is. We made it in school today ready to show at harvest festival tomorrow. We're quite pleased with ourselves, children have a new found admiration for farmers and bakers, but more importantly were blown away by the process of making and eating their own bread. We made five loaves in total using some purchased flour but the picture is of a loaf from our own flour made from wheat grown at school. Our year 4 class of 32 pupils ate four of the loaves in 15 minutes and are all set to go home and have another go. Brilliant campaign we loved the experience - but my coffee grinder probably won’t recover.
Berkswich School

September 2011

The Year R pupils planted their mini wheatfield way back in March and watched it steadily grow, measuring the height occasionally, right up to the summer holidays.  The summer ripened the wheat and when we came back to school in September it was ready for harvesting. 

The children, now in Year 1, harvested it two weeks ago.  They cut the ears and rubbed them over a sheet to remove the grains.  We then had a go at winnowing, though it wasn't very windy, tossing everything in the sheet to separate the grains from the chaff.  We then separated out some grains and crushed them using various methods, stones, rolling pins etc., to see the flour inside.  Before the end of October they will be visiting Butser Ancient Farm taking some wheat with them to find out how wheat was ground into flour in Celtic times using quern stones. We will then be baking bread during their next cookery lesson.
Petersgate Infant School, Hampshire

Chepstow held their annual Food Festival on July 14 to crown their winning team to come forward to the finals of the Grow Your Own Ploughmans competition. Here are some of the pupils planting wheat seeds, and tending to their patch. All pupils who took part in the grow your own ploughmans have been entered into the CREST awards bronze category this year.
Chepstow School

The Garden Club successfully grew a metre square of wheat. It was harvested and is now drying in a pillow case. It may even be being bashed (threshed) as I write this! The local press are coming to photograph it being milled next Monday, so there will be a little report in the paper. We are hoping the cookery club will help us bake it into a loaf or some rolls.

Your description of the processes to go through has been very useful. And the entry by another group on how to do it all as a small group with things like pillow cases, hairdryers and coffee mills has been very helpful indeed. Thank you for letting us take part. The club has been very enthusiastic and benefitted from the experiences.
Dines Green Primary School, Worcestershire

We grew the wheat (a patch about 1m by 3m) on our allotment near our Food Technology room.  During various lessons throughout the summer (enrichment, horticulture, gardening club) we looked at and talked about the wheat growing.  The wheat lodged during the summer holidays due to the wet weather but our grounds man harvested it and left to dry.  Since the start of the autumn term students have gathered it into a sheaf to use in our harvest assembly.  Our Food Tech teacher is going to bake bread in a lesson, to stand with it the wheat.  We are also hoping to organise a visit for some students to Imbhams farm in Haslemere to watch a bread demonstration of grain being ground and made in to bread. The Park is a school for 100 students with learning difficulties.
The Park School, Surrey

Our wheat has managed to grow against all the odds. The KS3 gardening club sowed three rows of seed a little late (7th April) right at the end of lunchtime on our last day before going off for Easter! We scraped three drills along the top of a mound of bare, dry soil at the far corner of the school field. As the bell was sounding, we rapidly tipped in the carefully weighed out seed, and then hurried to the buildings to wash hands and get to lessons. We then had absolutely no rain for several weeks.

To our amazement, some of the plants in the top two rows germinated and looked quite strong when we went off for the summer. A further long period of drought followed, but we returned to find ripe ears of wheat this term. Three of our EAL (English as an Additional Language) girls who have only been in England for a few months harvested it. I asked if they knew what it was and they replied, 'naan.' Clearly they have seen naan bread making at all its stages.

We laid it out to dry in a wicker basket and this week we shall separate out the grain using the pillowcase and brick wall method! Or we might try walking on it.
Tile Hill Wood School and Language College, nr Coventry

We split the wheat so that two thirds was grown in the metres square raised bed and the remaining third grown on an allotment with plenty of space. Sadly, the wheat grown in the raised bed was affected by the early heatwave we had and although it grew to over 50cms high it didn't have a very good yield of wheat when  we harvested it in September. We wondered whether it was because the root system went only 5-6cm into the soil. The allotment grown wheat fared better but again was affected by the hot weather in the spring.

We would like to repeat the experiment next year - if possible and would like to set up and investigate how different growing media affect the growth and yield of the crop.

Is this being repeated next year?? I'd love to try this again - after learning from my mistakes this year as it's been so enjoyable and interesting for the students taking part. After a research lesson they were amazed at what products were made from wheat and how much maths is needed.
Great Marlow School, Bucks

Our Year 3 children sowed the seed in late April in a small raised bed, covered it with netting to keep off birds and animals and watered sparingly as the weather was very dry. Germination was slow and patchy but eventually it virtually covered the bed.  Progress has been observed by each group of gardeners (the children take turns to look after the small garden and our other crops this year included lettuce, radishes, swiss chard, sweet corn, small squash and ornamental gourds). We cut the wheat three weeks ago using long handled shears, rolled it into a large sheet and it is now drying on my dining room floor.  Some of the wheat will be used for decorating the village church for harvest. We plan to thresh it at school and have arranged with our local windmill that the children (now Year 4)  will be able to grind it using their querns.  This means a morning visit to the windmill with a walk across the Ashdown Forest to get there.  We hope to have a baking session, though it is unlikely that we will have a significant amount of our own flour. We are all enjoying taking part in the project.
Nutley Primary School, East Sussex

We have been making the most of our cob bread oven in our school garden.  The children have made bread on several occasions and used bread making within the science curriculum looking at yeast for changes etc.  The children also make delicious pizzas which they cook outside in the cob oven with one of our dads.
Longtown Community Primary School, Herefordshire

We've harvested (children with scissors!) and threshed and it is all going well so far. We have also made a BFG scarecrow, complete with a little Sophie (Roald Dahl characters) and had our photo in the papers.
Tintwistle Primary School, Derbyshire

I grew two patches of wheat - one in a community garden with school children in Dunton. The germination was very patchy and we didn't get enough to do anything with the wheat but we enjoyed growing it! The other was a smaller patch on an allotment - but a mouse (and her babies) were living in the compost heap and ate the lot!
Dunton Community Garden, Bedfordshire

We really tried to grow a loaf of bread on the roof garden. It all started off so well with beautiful green shoots that our gardeners were so proud of but the weather and probably the fact that we only had a very shallow bed to sow the seed in were against us. We had a metre square field of wheat and it was going great guns then the terrible winds and rains bashed it all to the ground.

The students were so keen to go the whole way, to the point of spreading our bread with home-made jam. We still have some grain left so will try again next year and try to find a deeper bed, maybe in a different area of our school which doesn’t have the crazy micro climate that our roof garden has.  Thanks for giving us the opportunity to take part we really enjoyed it. Picture
Haberdashers Askes Hatcham

We're harvesting now, a rare patch of sunshine and all the wheat seems golden and ready. We'll see how we go from here! I've forwarded photos of Jack and Charlie bringing home the harvest! OK it's not a lot, but a reasonable bag-full and we're pleased! And here we are looking at wheat grains and different sorts of flour (coarse and fine) through magnifying glasses. 1 2 3 4
Home educator

Just to let you know we planted our wheat and it grew amazingly well.  We reaped the wheat-although some of it was a little green as it was planted a little late.  The students are now making bread.  We did this as part of a STEM project with science and technology.
Chace Community School, Enfield

We haven't harvested yet, being in N Ireland, but I think we're nearly there - if it survives the wind and we get just a little sunshine!
Home educator, Northern Ireland

The harvest at Sarehole Mill museum has not been very successful because the pigeons got there first. I thought our very young visitors (reception and year 1 children) had been somewhat enthusiastic in their hands-on approach, only to find a large flock of pigeons early one morning devouring what was left of the wheat.

However, I have decided that growing wheat on site is a definite 'must' and will certainly do it again next year. We have been able to pick some of the wheat, grind it and bake it.
Sarehole Mill, Birmingham

On 11 March there was a workshop day for all Castle staff, an hour of which was for me to give them activities in the garden.  I gave two members of climbing staff the instruction to sow some wheat as part of Bake Your Lawn. I had turned about 1.5 square metres into a small raised bed. The wheat was sown 15 cm apart and was multi sown ( about 3-4 seeds per sowing). The wheat grew really well!  It was looking ready to harvest by the end of July.   At the Castle Garden party, after the climbing competitions and whilst the DJ was pumping out some house music, I harvested the wheat using my Austrian scythe ( from which took all of three strikes! and was helped by people to put the wheat into bundles.  On the 1 September, with the help of three of our garden volunteers we threshed it, using pillow cases and whacking it against the wall, as well as hitting it with a mallet! We then winnowed it, pouring it from bucket to bucking in the wind to blow away the husks, as well as hand picking stalks out - it took a few hours and a bit of work! However the end result was about 1.17kg of wheat!  Next stage is to get it milled and made into mini pizzas and focaccias!
The Castle, Stoke Newington, London

August 2011

Pictures from Vincent Talleu of the Brockwell Bake Association of some of their south London harvest of heritage wheats. 1 2 3 4 5 6
Brockwell Bake Association, South London

Today, seven children from the class that planted the wheat, plus siblings, friends and parents, an LSA and a teacher took time out of their summer holidays to harvest our wheat. It was a glorious sunny day for the cutting and the threshing. We thoroughly enjoyed it and learned more about wheat farming in the process. Farmer James was a huge help, showing us exactly what we needed to do. Once we're back to school in September we'll mill the wheat and bake it.
Takeley Primary School, Herts

July 2011

We're still on track to have our milling and baking day - after the 19th September. I'll let you know when a date has been decided. There should be seven of the schools in the group growing wheat.  Here's a picture of the wheat I'm growing at the Bridge Mill - the cornfield weeds are about to flower too!
Bridge Mill, Devon

The children have planted about 1 sq m of wheat in their allotment in Pontcanna Fields. Luckily the allotments are opposite a riding school so there is always plenty of manure available. We planted two varieties, an old Welsh and an old Swedish variety. We planted a row of each variety separately and two rows of mixed. We weighed the seeds as we put them in and will try to weigh the amount of grain we get from each row when we harvest them. The Welsh variety seems to be taller, but the Swedish variety stands up straighter, they are about 5ft tall.
Cardiff Woodcraft group

We planted the wheat on 5th May, just throwing handfuls of seed which we had weeded and raked. Then we raked the seeds in, watered them and covered the soil with a net so that the birds could not eat them. We were very excited to start measuring it on 17th May - we had not expected it to be through so quickly! Here are our measurements:

17th May - 7cm
24th May - 24.4cm
What a difference some rain makes!
7th June - 30cm
14th June - 35cm
21st June - 39cm
4th July - 85cm.

The children are really enjoying this project. Photos.
Northfield Junior School, Derbyshire

June 2011

My wheat is doing well and I've included in the mix some once common flowers of the cornfields - poppies, cornflowers and corn cockle. The wheat is forming flowerheads and the flowers are in bud - it is going to look great in a few days.
The Bridge Mill, Devon

A Bake Your Lawn demonstration was established at Ryton Gardens in spring 2011. This is centred on a plot of a modern spring wheat variety (Paragon). There were initially problems with birds causing damage to the young seedlings and so we protected them with fleece; this was very effective and a good population of plants was established. We were also able to water the plot several times during the dry weather. Now, in early June, the plants are just beginning to show ears. In an adjacent plot we are demonstrating some of the other cereals. We had a patch of rye that had been sown in the autumn as a green manure and we have allowed this to grow on to produce grain. It is now well over five feet tall! We also sowed some heritage cereal varieties (wheat, oats and barley)that we were sent by Mike Ambrose of the John Innes Centre in Norwich. This complements an adjacent display of our own Heritage Seed Library varieties of vegetables.

We hope to be able to feature the project in events at Ryton later in the year. About half an acre of Paragon wheat was also sown in our research field so that we would have more material to use in possible threshing and milling demonstrations. It will be interesting to compare the yield of this wheat with that grown in the gardens under much more intensive conditions.
Garden Organic, Ryton Gardens, Warwickshire

We  initially looked at the Bake Your Lawn website, downloaded the virtual book and chose the drill method of planting.  The garden had just be revamped and we decided to plant our seeds in a 1m x 1m plastic raised vegbed. We prepared the vegbed and planted our seeds on 6th April - a lovely sunny warm day . We have been checking on the growth and watering. As of half term (Mon 30th May) our wheat is still doing well - the 3 rows are different sizes, ranging from 28cms to 36cms. We know a farmer who is going to loan us some milling/grinding stones so hopefully we can produce our own flour at the end of this venture.
The Eco Team, Peatmoor Community Primary School, Swindon

Our Primary 2 class have enjoyed growing the wheat some much they have written a poem about it.  We thought you might like to read it as it is a work of art from the children!
Garnetbank Primary School, Glasgow

May 2011

This is on a small plot on Lower Drayton Farm in Staffs. The chicken wire is an attempt to keep out the rabbits. The ground originally had pigs on it so I suppose you could say we used the pig tractor method to prepare the ground. We're lucky to have the farmer on hand to advise us - he's told us that as the seedlings are so close together (broadcast sowing) they will consequently have smaller seed heads. We're hoping to sew a few neat rows in different soil too for comparison. I'll try to get some more images over to you of the children actually tending the wheat in the near future. I'm not sure if we qualify for the media campaign pics as I suppose our wheat seems to be growing in a rural idyll, not in the shadow of dark satanic mills...however the farm is spookily close to the M6!
Home Educator, Staffordshire

We received our wheat seed back in March, our community trainees prepared the ground late March and the following week pupils from two of the local primary schools visited to plant the seed. By early May this is looking great and growing really strongly. The area planted forms part of the much larger Community Gardens lottery-funded project which aims to involve the local community in growing and eating better. Plans are developing to build a clay bread oven to bake the bread made at community bake sessions.  The schools will be involved in the projects from planting through to harvest and even grinding for the flour for their own bread making sessions!
Meadow Well Connected Community Centre, North Shields

Here at Penryn College we are doing the full monty; growing the wheat, making the flour and baking the bread.  To be accompanied by a meal that we have made from the vegetables we grow here on our school grounds. 
Penryn College, Cornwall

We are an inner city primary school in London's east end. We are developing an edible playground and your wheat is a big part of that!  We have it growing in the playground garden as well as by a class in  their roof top planter!! Its doing well! We plan on visiting a miller  when it is ready and to ask a local baker to come and help make it into a loaf!
Chisenhale Primary School, London

We are growing the wheat at our secondary school - planted at the end of March and have been keeping records of its progress. We plan to harvest the wheat when its ready and the Food technology department are going to take it from there. The wheat's planted right outside the school canteen so all the students can watch it grow. It has grown an amazing 7cm in 2 weeks!!
Great Marlow School,  Buckinghamshire

We are growing our wheat in our school garden in the middle of Glasgow.  We don't actually have any garden as such, everything that we grow is grown in pots and containers.
Garnetbank Primary School, Glasgow

Our wheat is growing quite nicely and I hope that we will have enough to make a loaf. I have found a place locally who will mill it for us. We have it growing in two of our allotment beds.
Slade Primary School, Kent

We are currently growing wheat in 1 m square beds at our school Berkswich Primary Stafford. Years 3 – 6 have planted the seeds in slightly different ways and will be interested to see which method produces the most seed at the end of it. Recent rain has meant a growth spurt, I just hope that the wheat will wait until after the holidays in the summer before it can be harvested.
Berkswich Primary, Staffordshire

We have sown wheat in circular bed 8ft by 8ft unfortunately some of the rows have not germinated but we have wheat. We have used the wheat in the sensory garden and hope it will blow and grow, sound windy and look like a waving sea of grass alonghside the herb garden and touch bed.
Penn School, Buckinghamshire

The children from our school, Ysgol Gymraeg Treganna, will be measuring their corn on Tuesday next,17 May, at the school allotment in Ely, Cardiff, in the afternoon. One of the pupils, Zach , will be talking about the Bake Your Lawn project on Radio Cymru's Dafydd a Carol show on Wednesday morning.
Ysgol Gymraeg Treganna,  nr Cardiff

We have just planted our wheat and made bird scarers - we are hoping that it will be ready to harvest when we come back in September.  We want to harvest it, mill it and bake it and try to tie this in with our Harvest Festival Celebration.
Northfield Junior School, Derbyshire

We planted 12 metre squared of wheat, and the plan is to have the kids back at the end of summer to harvest, mill and bake it. We have just finished building an earth oven at the garden too, so we really can take the kids all the way from seed to loaf.
Abbey Physic Community Garden, Kent

April 2011

'Jack and Charlie have been measuring the shoots against all sorts of different things to keep track of how it is growing. We have plans to team up with our local school to do something exciting when we come to mill it, and if we can I want to build a cob oven to bake our bread in
(that would be in our back garden). We have a sourdough culture already so it will be very very real bread!'
Home educator

March 2011

'The boys are Jack (5) and Charlie (3), they've baked a lot of bread and sourdough before (Jack shapes a mean loaf) and they're excited to have their own field.  Charlie in particular was very keen on the seeds we sprouted in a jar and insisted on planting those too!  We've put our field in the garden of the empty house next door (with permission!) and they check it most days, they think it is funny that it looks like grass. We've ordered "Bread Comes to Life: A Garden of Wheat and a Loaf to Eat" on the recommendation of Secular Homeschooling (an American magazine), so we're looking forward to that arriving.'
Home educator

'Hi we have our wheat and two groups in the school have planted it. Another group is going to plant their wheat tomorrow as they have been preparing the soil.'
Linden Lodge School   

'The children at South Harringay Junior school, all 240 of them, have sown their wheat. Each of the 8 classes has an area of 1m2-ish. The first seeds were sown on Friday 11th March 2011 and thanks to a lovely open plot and some sunny weather the first shoots were poking through the soil in just over a week. Looking at the little rows of green spikes one child commented "Look! They're beautiful."' Click here for pictures.
South Harringay Junior School, London

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