Ancient Grains

Ancient Grains

Soft wheat and durum wheat belong to two different species. Soft wheat is fine and powdery, low in protein, it makes fantastic pastry, cakes and breads. In Italy it has a grading with '00' flour being the most refined. You will often see people say that this is the flour for making pasta dough, and in the north, in the pastifici of Bologna for example, this is the flour that they use.

Durum wheat (hard wheat) is difficult to break apart. The milled flour has a coarser quality and a yellow colour. It's higher in protein and grows well in the south of Italy.

Within these species there are different varieties. For our hard wheat flour we buy from a cooperative in Sannio, Campania, by the name of Lentemente Cooperativa.

After returning to Campania in 2012, Donato De Marco and six of his close friends started the cooperativa which translates as 'Slowly'. They are experimenting with old and new methods that in their words 'respect the enviroment, people and society'. Their motto is 'Sustainability - economic, social and enviromental'. They have bought 15 hectares of land high up in The Sannio and plant and harvest organic ancient varietes of grain.

Commercial wheat varities planted nowadays are extremely high yielding, but cannot survive without fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides or insecticides. This all comes at great cost to the nutritional qualities of the plant as well as the enviroment and the population (both human and wildlife).

The grains that Lentemente plant are called 'Ancient', that is to say that they are the original strains of grain. They are low yielding and more difficult to harvest and mill, but are able to grow without the use of artificial or chemical help. They're extremely nutritious with high levels of protein, minerals and vitamins. Saragolla for example is naturally very high in silicone (the body uses this trace element to build strong skin, bones, hair and nails). As well as working with wheat, Lentemente are also planting barley and hemp, a plant recently gaining much attention for its natural properties (High in omega 3 & 6, and containing 20 amino acids). It's being increasingly used in food, pharmaceutical products, bio construction and textile manufacturing.

Donato and co also work with the local community offering work placements and opportunities to disadvantaged groups. Examples being working with local disability centres and ex prisoners.

They are obtaining their organic certification and are the only Azienda Agricola that subscribes to the registry of social farms in Campania.

The grain is milled in an old stone mill in San Nicola Manfredi, a small village in Campania. The mill was found abandoned in Naples, and Gasperino & Pasqualina salvaged it and lovingly restored it. It's now used by Lentemente and a few other small growers in Sannio.

The wheats that we import are Saragolla, Germanella, Segele and Senatore Cappelli.

“Why do we do this? Because we love our land, we love the enviroment and we want to work in synergy with nature. It’s a very difficult path but it’s our path” - Donato De Marco
Gasperino (L) & Donato (R)

Gasperino (L) & Donato (R)