How a Bakery Started Growing its own Grain to Reduce its Carbon Footprint

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Toronto bakery Stonemill Bakehouse was concerned about the negative impacts its operations were having on the environment. In past years, the supply chain of locally grown grains had faded, and the company was sourcing many ingredients from the Canadian prairies thousands of kilometres away as well as from the United States.

The Need

Source Grains Closer to Home

The transport of ingredients from the farms to the Stonemill bakery was inflating the company’s carbon footprint by about 150 tonnes of CO2 per year. Believing it was the company’s responsibility to observe environmental best practices, president Gottfried Boehringer wondered why Stonemill couldn’t grow their own ingredients locally to cut emissions.

The Solution

Grow Your Own Grains

In autumn of 2012, Stonemill Bakehouse bought a 100-acre farm in Prince Edward County and began cultivating its own grain for bread.

It all started with a trip to a sunflower field in Prince Edward County 200 kilometres away. There, Boehringer realized the potential of growing and harvesting Stonehouse's own ingredients. Sourcing local ingredients meant the company had to restore old practices. “It was very difficult,” says Boehringer, “The supply chain for local grains had really evaporated. We had to find a way to recreate it.” The solution required that the company unlearn old knowledge and move beyond conventional methods of product creation.

The company began with a small test patch of rye seed that gave way to a successful yield. Boehringer expects by fall of 2013, Stonemill Bakehouse will harvest 100-tonnes of rye for its bread. Among other grains on the locally grown list are spelt, oats, and sunflower seeds. Within the next five years, Stonemill hopes to source most or all of its grain ingredients locally. What’s more, Stonemill’s high quality grains are grown without the use of harmful fertilizers, enabling the company to market a product that’s healthier for us, and better for the planet.

Develop Relationships to Build a Network

The project required Stonemill to build a relationship with local farmers. The goal is “to be a catalyst for the creation of a local infrastructure that connects farmers directly with bakeries and ultimately, consumers,” says Boehringer. Strategic partnerships will allow Stonemill Bakehouse to create products including a new kind of artisan bread with locally grown rye.

The Result

Healthy Bread from "Greener" Grain

Stonemill Bakehouse now offers Prince Edward County Rye Bread made entirely with locally grown ingredients. Cultivating its own grain means Stonemill can offer the same nutritious, high-quality product with significantly reduced carbon emissions.