“Tomorrow they are going into the ground, beautiful weather, Vincent!”
Low and high tide, current channels and screeming seagulls … On a sun-drenched Sunday afternoon the feeling is unreal, here used to be the regime of the sea.
The First World War made it clear. Land was needed, land to provide the hungry population with sufficient food. “From the North Holland coast through the Amsteldiep to the island of Wieringen and from this island to the Frisian coast near Piaam”. The then Minister of Public Works, Docter Lely, got his way. The dike appeared and on 21 August 1930 the Wieringermeer fell dry.
Today these grounds give birth to organic grains that are milled on the wind into amazing flour. Spelt, rye, oat, but above all lavett! A baking wheat that I’m crazy about, and we’re going to sow her now!
“Almost 88 years later Harry, that sounds quite near actually …”. On April 22, 2018, I sit next to farmer Harry Donker on his John Deere in Middenmeer. I can hear the wheat grains behind us rolling in the seeder. We drive neat tracks, GPS controlled and accurate to the centimeter. “180 kg of organic summer wheat per hectare, eventually about 6 to 7 tonnes of grain will be harvested from the same hectare.” I let it take effect… almost 40 times as much! We turn, drive a new track and enjoy the slowly lowering spring sun.
Harry stops his machine for a moment. “Let’s see if we’re going well.” He gets out, measures the row distance and checks if the grains are deep enough. His satisfied look speaks for itself; “that’s nice!”. The choice for lavett wheat was not made just like that. “She grows nicely on my land, has little problems with diseases and enjoys the high number of sun hours here. That translates into a baking wheat with a relatively large amount of protein.”
Slowly we get closer to the edge of the field and I tell Harry about my fascination with the road from grain to bread. “Sown by me, milled by miller Vincent and you bake great bread with it, circle around!” Between my stories, I see Harry checking his grain stock in the bin behind us. “We’re just going to get it with this stock, I guess. If you want, get out, and get some nice pictures from the outside.”
While he is driving his last lanes, I am lying on my belly in the rock hard sea clay of Middenmeer. Formerly the bottom of the sea, now the cradle of great grain. Harry laughs about my passion; “Come and watch again in a week, with this weather it will fly out of the ground”.
Exactly a week later I am back on Harry’s land: at least 6 centimeters indicates my folding rule!
I walk across the land, Harry did not have time to come. Moments later, my phone rings: “Nice right? they’re already on their way …” In a week from grain to sprout, fascinating…