Sourcing our wheat

When Henry Robinson took over the reins at Laxey Glen Mills in the late 1980s, the majority of the wheat milled at Laxey was imported from the UK and, in the main, consisted of Canadian-grown milling wheat. The 'grain boats' regularly moored in Laxey harbour so that the wheat could be off-loaded by suction and taken up the Laxey Glen to the Mill in special high-sided trucks.

"Robbie" viewed this exercise as expensive and decided to investigate the possibility of developing the production of milling wheat on the Isle of Man. Local farmers had grown feed wheat for many years and, in Mr Robinson's view, their experience in this field, coupled with the relatively small volume of wheat they currently produced, would enable them to significantly increase the amount of higher grade of wheat he needed for his mill.

He felt it was also necessary to involve the IOM Board of Agriculture in a scheme which encouraged farmers to set aside land for the purpose and so that agency introduced an incentive method of encouraging growers to produce the higher-risk milling wheat by paying a bonus for each tonne of wheat delivered to the Mill.

Over the years, more and more farmers became involved until, at one point, in excess of twenty local farms were supplying high quality wheat and, by the late 1990s, all of the wheat supplied for milling Laxey flour was grown on the Isle of Man.

Although the number of growers has now reduced, some farmers have expanded their holdings and increased the tonnage they supply. All of the wheat, however, is grown on the Island and is readily traceable - a fact which is particularly attractive to many of the more conscientious bakers.

The ability of the Isle of Man growers to produce such high quality wheat contributes to the fact that, other than raising agents and specific flavour enhancers such as contained in Sunrise and Sun-dried Tomato flours, the flour produced by Laxey Glen Mills is 100% pure and completely free from the additives legally demanded by the UK authorities.