A local couple has set up a brand-new mill, giving customers a chance to puchase flour made with wheat grown right here in southeastern Manitoba.

Julie Ellis and her husband Isaac Loewen have opened Bloom Bakery and Mill between Steinbach and Blumenort. She notes this dream is three years in the making.  

“We are passionate about where food comes from and where it's going, and as a Baker and Isaac being a chef, getting really good, quality food sometimes is really difficult. We live on a fifth-generation family farm, and we grow our own grain and so it kind of all fell into place and made a lot of sense, like, 'why don't we open up our own flour mill?” 

Ellis adds “Manitoba has some of the best wheat you can grow in the world, and there's not a lot of mills around.” 

After three years of research, hard work, and waiting, their dream is finally a reality.

a flour millEllis says their flour mill is made by New American Mills in Vermont

In fact, Loewen notes their new mill is set up right next to one of their fields. 

“We think we're really blessed that we get to mill on the same land that we get to grow on, which is pretty cool. We've farmed here for generations, which is also pretty cool. Our farmhouse is on the original land of the Blumenort settlement, and it's pretty cool that we get to grow some of the best grain in the world, not just us, but the farmers in this area in general.” 

Considering the quality and quantity of the wheat grown in the Southeast, Loewen says we should have the ability to purchase flour made from that grain.  

Loewen says they mill both organic and conventionally farmed grain. 

“Primarily, we focus on regenerative farming practices as our main goal. We like to respect the land and keep it as good as we can. I'd say that there are pros and cons to both organic and conventional practices and we're trying to kind of thread the middle of it.” 

Ellis says another thing that makes their flour special at Bloom Bakery and Mill special is the process.  

“What makes it really unique is that it is milled in an older style, it is stone-ground flour. It is a 42-inch granite stone mill.” 

She notes most large commercial mills use steel or roller mills which cut and strip the grain, taking a lot of nutritional value away. She notes synthetic nutrients then have to be added back in, but this isn't the case with a stone mill. 

“With a stone flour mill, your whole grain drops into the stone, it gets crushed and combined so all the oils, all the germ, all the nutrients, everything gets smashed together into a beautiful, fluffy, smooth, flour. We don't have to add anything back into it, it's whole grain and whole flour out.” 

a bag of flour with a Bloom Bakery and Mill logo on itAt the moment, Ellis says they are milling Brandon Hard Red Spring Wheat, but they look forward to experimenting with different grains

She notes they can then leave it as whole meal flour, or use a sifter to take off some of the bran and create a strong baker's flour. 

Going forward, Ellis says they are also excited to start experimenting with different grains and blends of grains.  

“Right now, we have our Brandon Hard Red Spring Wheat, but in the future, we'd like to have lots of different varieties because wheat isn't just wheat, there's hundreds of varieties of wheat and hundreds of varieties of rye, and barley and so we want to be able to do interesting blends.” 

As Julie ran a bakery for years, she notes she is also excited to play with these products so that she “can give good information to the consumer of what we're actually doing here”. 

Ellis says they are starting small, but they hope to slowly grow and branch out. 

“We'd like to get into some stores primarily. I'd like to be supplying restaurants and bakeries. We have a bakery in Niverville, Forgotten Flavors, that is going to be starting to use our flour, that's our first bakery that contacted us, which is wonderful and they're local, which is great. We're also doing some farmers markets like St. Norbert, South Osborne, and hopefully Wolseley.” 

She adds “It's exciting to get the flour out there. I want people to feel like they can pick up a bag and use it for all of the things that they're doing in their kitchen.” 

You can follow Bloom Bakery and Mill on social media to follow their progress.