An Aberdeenshire-based family enterprise has invested a four-figure sum in new machinery to produce Scotland’s only stoneground spelt flour.
Westfield Farms of Inverurie, which is owned by the Sorrie family who launched Ola Oils in 2008, has designed and built a bespoke de-hulling machine to diversify into spelt production.
John Sorrie, who has been running Westfield Farms, a 250-acre arable farm for 17 years, was inspired to grow and produce the new product due to the speciality flours stocked in the family’s retail business, The Green Grocer, in Inverurie.
After researching growing the seed, Mr Sorrie discovered it was the perfect plant to survive the North-east’s harsh weather conditions. As it had never been grown in Scotland it was impossible to source, but enough genuine spelt seed was eventually sourced in Europe.
Although it doesn’t need the same inputs as wheat and barley, the harvested grain is impossible to mill without removing the hull.
Mr Sorrie, who formerly worked as an engineer, took several months to design and build a bespoke de-hulling machine to remove the hull from the wholegrain, resulting in the naked grain being ready to grind into flour.
The grain, which is high in nutrients, protein and vitamin B, is grown and de-hulled on-site at Westfield Farm on a plot spanning more than 20-acres, before being stoneground at Golspie Mill, the only remaining traditional water powered mill in mainland Scotland.
After just six months of being harvested, the spelt, which is higher in protein than wheat flour and much lower in gluten, won best new retail product at the 2017 North East Scotland Food and Drink awards in March.
Mr Sorrie said: “Winning the accolade at the North East Scotland Food and Drink awards was a great achievement as we had only been producing the spelt for a short space of time, and highlights how popular the product is becoming due to its wide range of health benefits.
“Following the success of Ola Oils, we made the decision to diversify into another product, and our research into growing spelt revealed that it would be the perfect grain to grow on-site.
“Designing and building the de-hulling machine was a challenge, but the investment now means it is the first of its kind in Scotland. We are also proud to say we are the only farm in Scotland to produce it.”