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Water-powered grain mill in Nelson County wins state grant

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Deep Roots Milling
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The mill grinds grains by using stones that were installed in the 1840s.

A flour mill in Nelson County is one of 11 recipients of state-funded grants meant to bolster the infrastructure of food and farming enterprises. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

The grant, which comes out of the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industry Development program, awarded $22,500 to Deep Roots Milling in Nelson County. Charlie Wade founded the company – although the mill itself far predates him.

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Deep Roots Milling
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Charlie Wade is the founder of Deep Roots Milling

CHARLIE WADE: We operate out of Woodson's Mill over in Nelson County, which is a historic water-powered mill that dates back to the 1790s. … Most of our grains come from within a hundred mile radius of the mill. … We do a variety of products. Bread flours, pastry flours, buckwheat, rye, oats, do a lot of cornmeal and grits.

He said one of the bottlenecks they've identified in their operations is the bagging process, filling bulk bags with flour by hand. That's where the grant comes in.

WADE: So we're going to use it to fix up a spot on the third floor of the mill to put our sifting equipment.

That way they can easily drop their flours through a hopper system and into the bags.

WADE: When it was renovated back in the '80s, they put modern sifting equipment on the second floor. So we just want to take that and put it back into its original location.

The mill's impact on the local community goes beyond providing the ingredients for delicious pizza crusts, cornbread, or biscuits. They were also a founding member of the Common Grain Alliance, an organization that seeks to build a vibrant regional grain economy.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.
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