By Ben Gleason, Gleason Grains, Bridport, Vermont
The second visit of our trip to Denmark was very different from the first. It was a great example of what can be done with a small investment. Kristian Andersen’s Kragegården farm and mill is located in Ringe. His family has operated this farm since 1760! The 300 hectare farm became organic in 1986 and used to keep a large herd of cows but now has only twenty. Currently Andersen grows potatoes, brussel sprouts, horseradish, wheat, spelt, emmer, barley, and rye. He is in the process of getting a biodynamic certificate as well.
Andersen started milling his grains five years ago, taking over an 85-year old retired miller’s operation. The retiring miller helped to establish the mill on Andersen’s farm. With four small stone mills, two homemade sifters, and a homemade spelt-barley huller, he sells 150 tons/year, with three or four employees. He owns Diamant mills, made in Denmark, using stones from Austria. The stones require no dressing.
Andersen is the smallest of five organic millers in Denmark and believes Denmark could support twenty mills of his size. With all the grains he makes twenty different products including muesli and barley porridge. Products are packaged in small quantities by hand. The operation appears to require quite a bit of hand labor. Grains are moved into the mill in large bags and fed into the mills by hand. He cracks rye in the first pass through the mill, and then tightens it and mills again. He thinks that gives it a better baking quality. The bran is often run back through the mill and sifter which makes me think that the drum type sifters might be inefficient.
Andersen enjoys contact with customers and says doing the milling as well makes him very conscious of good growing and harvesting practices. Andersen says his rye yields about two to three tons/hectare and doesn’t have ergot. Crop rotations include lots of clover. He harvests red and white clover for seed. Spring wheat is under sown with clover or Lucerne (alfalfa).
One of Andersen’s specialties is Dragon spring wheat. It was commonly grown in the 50’s, and is a high protein, low-yielding wheat, currently only being grown on his farm. He also grows Ølands wheat, which is used by other organic farmers. Both heritage varieties come from Sweden. He also showed us a purple barley that he is growing!
It was fun and interesting to visit Kragegården. Kristian Andersen, like all the other farmers we visited, is passionate about and proud of what he is doing.
Go to Kragegården website
Try a free online translation programs, like Google Translate, to help with the Danish!
Denmark Trip >