Oats: Help sought to revive small-scale production

Bags of oats
Image caption A group of small scale growers is hoping to unlock the "mystery" of how to dehull oats without the use of a mill

Historians and engineers are being asked for their help to reintroduce small-scale oat growing to Wales.

Growers network Llafur Ni has begun growing oats, but are not producing enough to supply large mills that can make it fit for human consumption.

The group is looking for information on bygone de-hulling methods or assistance to to build a small de-hulling machine.

Oats are commonly used as livestock feed but need to be rolled or made into oatmeal to be suitable for humans.

Katie Hastings from the Gaia Foundation, an organisation which works to revive biodiversity, said oat growing was suited to Welsh soils and the country's wet climate.

She is working with Llafur Ni in a bid to return to the days when locally grown oats were an important part of the Welsh diet.

She said: "We've been searching far and wide for a de-hulling machine or for some old kind of process that would allow us to de-hull the oats and so far we haven't solved the mystery.

"We are asking people does anybody have a de-huller or does anyone have any knowledge of the old ways these oats would have been processed to be eaten? So if there any engineers out there who could help us, or any historians who may have more information, please get in touch."

Image caption Llafur Ni wants someone with knowledge of bygone dehulling methods to help

Llafur Ni member Jo Hope farms in the hills near Machynlleth, Powys, and wants to return oat growing to one of his fields using organic methods.

He said: "I'm not expecting to make huge amounts of money anytime soon, but there's a growing interest in local foods.

"We are seeing that people are willing to pay a premium for food that is local and food that meets higher standards environmentally."

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