1988 - Volume #12, Issue #4, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
On Farm Brick Oven Boosts Value of Wheat CropThe value of a bushel of wheat skyrockets when you turn it into wholesome, easy-tobake whole-wheat bread right on the farm, according to Californian Alan Scott who specializes in building "retained heat" brick ovens for on-farm use.
"Adobe and clay ovens are as old as agriculture itself. We've updated the idea with the latest new technologies and materials to build state-of-the-art ovens that provide an excellent way to boost farm income without leaving the farm," says Scott. His company, Oven Crafters, works with farmers every step of the way in designing and building wood or gas-powered brick ovens and then setting up a complete baking operation. He even helps develop ideas for marketing the home-baked bread to nearby markets or throughout the U.S. through the Postal Service or UPS.
One of his customers, Richard Callan and his wife Patti, who farm near Woodland, Calif., worked with Scott to set up their farm-based operation. Using Scott's de-signs and following his direction, they built their own brick oven with the help of a corp of volunteers. "The 36-loaf oven is equipped with the latest in temperature sensing equipment, insulation materials, ash disposal devices, and it can be transported to a new location, if necessary. The Callans invested less than $2,000 in the oven, which is less than the 30-quart mixer they use to mix dough. They fire the oven with wood from their own and surrounding farms," says Scott.
The oven bakes 36 2-lb. loaves per hour, or about 200 loaves a day. The bread - made from "organically grown" hard red wheat - brings a retail price of $3 per loaf in nearby stores and as far as 400 miles away in Los Angeles.
"They're doing 60 limes better than the average wheat farmer who only receives about 5 cents for every loaf of store-bought bread," says Scott.
The Callans bake a whole grain bread - using wheat they grind themselves - that is simply leavened with a continually replenished "starter" mix. Popular among "health food" lovers, there are no costs for yeast or any additives for the bread other than salt.
Scott says he has the only business of its kind outside Europe, where brick ovens are popular. In addition to designing ovens, he sells pre-cast oven components and publishes a mail order catalog that contains all the products necessary to start a farm-based bread baking business as well as a selection of detailed oven plans and building instructions.
"You could use cornstalks, shelled corn, and other farm-based `free' fuels to fire the oven, which makes this business a very profitable enterprise for the farm," says Scott.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Alan Scott, Oven Crafters, P.O. Box 24, Tomales, Calif. 94971 (ph 707 878-2028).
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