Harold Wilken is a 4th generation grain farmer who with his family owns and operates Janie's Mill, which stone grinds a variety of whole grain organic flours. Janie's Mill and Janie's Farm are located in rural east central Illinois about an hour and half south of Chicago. Janie's mill serves the greater Chicago foodshed, providing freshly milled organic artisan bread and pastry flour to Chicago bakers and grain to regional breweries and distillaries. Janie's Mill provides flour to its retail customes through an online sales platform and through grocery and health food stores in the region.
The Little Mill That Can!
"My vision is to feed people in my foodshed. Our customers find that we're a family dedicated to feeding people, and I'm very proud of that!"--Harold Wilken
We're talking about catalyzing a farm to food system vision for regenerating community health, wealth, resilience and well-being.
In this interview, I talk with Harold Wilken, a fourth generation farmer and miller in east central Illinois. In 2017 Harold began milling the wheat that he grows on the 3000 organic acres he farms with his son, Ross. Harold tells us about the journey that has taken him to the emerging artisan baking scene in Chicago over the past three years and how he is now responding to the exploding demand for flour from home bakers who can't find flour on their grocers' shelves.
We've been hearing about how regional mills and other processors are stepping in to fill the gap for consumers who can't find conventional flour, meats and other staples on grocery shelves due to the pandemic. Now let's talk directly to a small miller who is on the front lines of his local food system, filling the gaps and meeting customers at every turn.
Harold talks about the breakdown of "just in time" supply chains during the pandemic that has resulted in the growth of a new economic engine in his tiny town of Ashkum, IL, where he has tripled his mill's workforce
He explains why agility and developing short supply chains--farm to mill to you--matter.
Harold shares his vision for the future of his milling operation
And he tells us his recipe for success
If you're not sure where to buy fresh flour, check with Janie's Mill--or a mill in your region. Harold's pretty sure that once you do, you'll be a customer for good!
Please enjoy my conversation with Harold to learn how we can catalyze and support a regenerative farming and food system that works for everyone.
Don't forget, I’ve created a special Our Food Is Our Future Facebook Group where you can join the conversation and share your reflections, questions and ideas about creating a healthier farming and food system.
Here's to a healthier farming and food system for us all,