Last year, we harvested industrial wheat by hand. We learned a lot from that process and decided to plant our own heritage wheat. In mid-July, we will harvest it using scythes and sickles. Then it has to get tied into sheaves and stood up in shocks to dry. Once dry, it has to be threshed to remove the grains from the heads, and then winnowed to remove the wheat from the chaff. Once cleaned, the wheat berries can be ground into flour. You’re invited to come and join us and bring home some flour for yourself.
In the above video, I harvest and process 2020’s wheat harvest. This year, we’ll be working with heritage wheat and rye.
In this workshop, we’ll spend the morning harvesting and tying up sheaves of wheat and rye. You’ll each get to try American and European scythes as well as sickles. If you have one, feel fee to bring it.
Right now, we plan to offer this class on July 17, but if enough demand is there, we will repeat it on the 18th.
After a brown-bag lunch (please bring your own), we’ll thresh and winnow wheat harvested and dried the week before. You’ll get to try a pedal-powered thresher and winnower as well as the old-fashioned methods of flail and winnow pan. Finally we’ll grind the wheat into flour using a bicycle-powered mill.
You’ll take home a 5-lb bag of freshly milled flour.
Please wear clothing appropriate for the weather and activity: close-toed shoes, gloves, long shirt and pants, hat for the sun, etc. We’ll have drinking water and snacks available, but please bring your own additional beverages and lunch. If the weather is too wet that day or the day before, our rain day will be Sunday, July 26.
∇ COVID-19 CONSIDERATIONS ∇
Due to the ongoing pandemic, we will be taking precautions against spreading the virus among ourselves. First, this event will be entirely outside. A bathroom is available, although “outdoor restroom visits” will be encouraged. Masks are required of all participants who are not fully vaccinated. Hand sanitizer, etc. will be available, and tools will be cleaned between users. We’ll be encouraging folks to spread out and avoid clumping together. This event may be cancelled if the state’s conditions worsen or stay-at-home orders are changed. You’ll get a full refund if this is the case.
The workshop will start meeting up at the Low Technology Institute (11927 W. State Road 59, Evansville, WI 53536) (located in historic Cooksville: take 14 south out of Madison; left on 59; the institute is the fifth house on the right with a sign out front) on July 17, at 10 a.m. sharp. We will then walk next door to the wheat and rye field. We’ll return to the institute for lunch and remain there until 4:00 p.m.
Please RSVP by purchasing a ticket through our online store. Space is limited and we will keep a waiting list. Get on the list by “purchasing” a waitlist ticket at no cost, also in our online store. Also, participants must fill out this liability waiver. Your RSVP is only complete when the waiver is filled out.
We’ve cancelled this due to dry conditions and low turn-out. Contact me if you want to come out and process some wheat.
Scott Johnson is the director of the Low Technology Institute. He has been scything for years and harvested grain last season.