By Holland Gidney
Every ride is a grind for Chris Hergesheimer. But he’s no hard-core cyclist. “The Flour Peddler” rides a custom-designed bike to produce fresh-milled flour from wheat and spelt kernels.
“I am still trying to figure out what the kilometre to kilogram ratio is,” he says.
After writing his thesis on small-scale grain-growing, the Roberts Creek resident began his flour-milling business, aka The Flour Peddler, to join the ‘grain chain’ himself. The notion of being an ‘active participant’ soon took on a whole new meaning when a friend helped connect an exercise bike to a hand-cranked mill to speed up production.
Before the bike, it took five minutes of hand-cranking for Hergesheimer to produce one cup of flour. Now, with just two to four minutes of riding, he can produce a kilogram of flour – and he’s fitter for it.
“It’s as good as going to the gym two to three times a week,” he said.
Hergesheimer mills Metchosin-grown Red Spring wheat, spelt grown near Armstrong, and two types of wheat from the Prairies. In all, he produces some 25-40 kilograms of fresh-milled flour a week to sell at the Sechelt Farmers Market and to a few local bakers (including one who delivers his bread by bicycle).
At the farmers market, the neon-green grain bike stands out, and Hergesheimer is always happy to demonstrate his ‘zero-carbon processing’ method to curious passers-by.
“I sell a few bags each week simply because it’s a novelty.”
But he is also convinced that fresh flour tastes better than what you get at the grocery store.
He realizes, though, that until his customers bake with it themselves and taste the difference, the ‘novelty factor’ will continue to be his main selling point. Fortunately, in the meantime, Hergesheimer is happy to keep grinding away on his bike – racking up kilograms instead of kilometres. For more on The Flour Peddler, visit theflourpeddler.com
Holland Gidney lives in Victoria. She is trying her hand at growing wheat and oats this summer at Makaria Farm (islandgrains.com)