FEATURED PRODUCER - Castle Valley Mill
What Gives? Great Golden Grains, of Course!
Heading out along West Court Street from the epicenter of Doylestown, past Central Bucks West High School, down over the railway tracks which carry workaday commuters to and fro Billy Penn's beloved Philadelphia, I wend my way further onto what becomes Lower State Road. I traverse through the new Route 202 Parkway intersection and cross the gorgeous and recently rebuilt bridge, once the site of Bucks County's longest covered bridge, spanning the Neshaminy Creek, and on towards the hidden gem of historic Castle Valley Mill.
It's quite wonderful that one of our nation's most prestigious agricultural institutions, Delaware Valley College and also, the nearby former home of The Big Boy Tomato and Iceberg lettuce seed scion, W. Atlee Burpee, lie just a fishing pole stroll from the 1730 landmark.
Coming upon the creek-side location that first became a mill during the decade that Benjamin Franklin toiled less than 30 miles away, to build the first volunteer fire company in the original thirteen colonies-- it's fitting that Ben chose to open his bucket brigade on Grindstone Alley. After all, it's grindstones, or maybe more accurately “millstones,” that owners Mark and Fran Fischer and their children cherish and care for day after day after day.
The Fischer's present themselves as true lovers of the whole grain grinding process. Maybe its the fact that Mark's grandfather bought and restored the existing grist mill after arriving fresh from his homeland of Germany in the 1940's, but it's obvious that Mark's DNA also has “miller” written all over it, way back to the old country. He is also no less an engineer, business builder, “locavore,” and along with his wife and family, a phenomenal restorer of antique milling apparatus.
To tour the Castle Valley Mill and experience the rushing water as it cascades over the Works Progress-era dam, then to climb up, down and around the innovative marvel that noted Philadelphia inventor Oliver Evans envisioned in the late 1700's-- is to get a glimpse of one of America's first integrated production processes, saving hours of manual labor, and reducing the cost and increasing the availability of superior flour for the “common man.”
From the glistening quartz buhr grinding stones imported from Alsace, France to the beauty of the old mill itself, once captured plein air by impressionist extraordinaire Edward W. Redfield, you can say it's just flour-- but once you know the story, once you understand the health and economic benefits of their regionally grown ancient whole grains, traditional stone ground flours, meals and even non-GMO grains and meals... it's so much more.
Castle Valley Mill products are sold at a growing number of retailers, farmer's markets and included as a foundational ingredient with area caterers, restaurants and bakers. A Doylestown Food Co-op producer, members are lucky to count this great hometown enterprise amongst its ranks. So, go get some great golden grains and start cooking up plans for delicious dishes and nutritious treats. Only Co-op Members can bring their own container and get a nice discount! Visit www.CastleValleyMill.com, 215-340-3609, 1730 Lower State Road, Doylestown, PA 18901.~
by Co-op member Kevin Jameson www.kevinjameson.com