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Meet Our Suppliers - Charlecote Mill

WHO ARE YOU? WHAT’S YOUR STORY, HOW & WHY DID YOU GET INTO THE BUSINESS?

I’m Karl Grevatt, Miller at Charlecote Mill in Hampton Lucy, just 5 miles from The Farm.  Charlecote Mill is a pretty unique business producing flour using only water power in the same way it was produced 270 years ago when the mill was built.  All of the wheat I mill is grown within three miles of the mill, so my claim to be a local business cannot get much better than that!

How did I become Miller at Charlecote?  Well, I was working as a carpenter in Building Conservation and was lucky enough to be selected to do The William Morris Craft Fellowship (www.wmcft.org.uk) in 2009.  As part of the course I spent time at Charlecote and fell in love with it.  When the previous miller announced his intended retirement I jumped at the chance to take over.  I spent a few months with him learning to Mill and now, 9 years later I still believe I have the best job in the world.

WHAT MAKES THE BUSINESS A COOL PLACE TO BE

There are very few people who can claim to be running a business just the same as it was when it was started hundreds of years ago.  Add that to the pleasure of knowing that I am both keeping an important historic building running and keeping a diminishing craft from disappearing and who could say this it is not the coolest thing to be doing.  When I open with “I run a water mill” in conversation I am guaranteed to get a fantastic response, not many people can claim that.

IF YOU WEREN’T RUNNING THE BUSINESS WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING 

I would still be working in Historic Building Conservation.  I just love old buildings and knowing that I have the skills and interest to keep them as they should be and to have the opportunity to work with some of the finest crafts people in the country is just truly fantastic.  That is one of the reasons I love Charlecote, I am using my craft skills to look after a local landmark.

WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON

More milling!  Keeping up with demand for my flour and keeping the wheels turning takes up all of my time and energy.  When you are using 270 year old machinery and are dedicated to maintaining that craft, there is not a lot you can change really.  That is the beaty of what I do, every day brings a new challenge, but I still keep on producing my flour no matter what.

WHAT MAKES YOU DIFFERENT

I’m in it for the love of what I do, not the profit.  Of course I like to make a living, but knowing I am keeping something so unusual going is as important to me.  I embrace the past rather than always looking to the future and because of that I have a natural, unadulterated product made entirely using natural power, working in harmony with nature and truly produced and packed by hand.  Not sure many people can honestly say that!

BEST MOMENT

That is a tricky one.  I work in a fantastic building, looking out onto the River Avon with all it’s nature and beauty.  In the background I have the constant rhythm of the ancient machinery and waterwheels in the background.  Every moment is my best moment and I have the best workplace you could ask for.

A VALUABLE LESSON 

Follow your dream and don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something.  Most people thought I was mad taking on a water mill and trying to make a business out of it.  Maybe they were right, but the rewards speak for themselves, I cannot imagine my life without having taken up this opportunity, it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

RECOMMEND SOMETHING

Support local, eat natural and take time to think about what you are brining into the kitchen.  Not everything is quite what it seems, but if you look for local artisan suppliers they can tell you just what it is you are getting and give you guarantees about how it is made.  I know the farmers who supply me, I know which fields they grow my wheat in and I know they don’t use harsh chemicals.  I don’t add anything and I take nothing out, that is the way food should be.

WHAT OR WHO IS YOUR INSPIRATION AND WHY?

The Millers who have gone before me.  I am the 10th Miller to run Charlecote since 1728 and every one of them has his own story and has faced his own challenges, from weather, corn laws, wars and taxes.  I still face many of the same challenges they did, but like them, we just find a way to adapt and make the most of what we have. 

THINGS YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT

My family, my collection of classic cars and good food! 

FAVOURITE MEAL OR GO TO SNACK

Tatty Olive!  No potatoes and no olives involved but this was the favourite meal my Nan used to make.  Her name was Olive and it was sort of like a lasagne, but using Tagliatelle which made it look tatty.  Fortunately my other half has mastered and even improved her recipe so it is still a regular favourite.

WHAT SONG WOULD YOU LIKE TO ADD TO THE FARM PLAYLIST

Night Air by Jamie Woon, it’s just one of the easiest tracks there is to listen to.  Not that I can play any music at the Mill, I have to listen for every noise and tell tale sound the mill makes to let me know what is going on.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT THE FARM STRATFORD?

I live in Snitterfield, so for me it is local and very handy.  I could not fail to mention the sausages either, possibly the best in Warwickshire, if not the UK.