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  • Writer's pictureJAdeC

Grown & Ground in Copșa Mare

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

The tabletop stone mill is here at last, and at work!
The real thing. Nothing added, nothing taken away. Thank you @murapadurii for this mouthwatering picture.

Earlier this week, we at celebrated the arrival of the table top stone mill that many of you so kindly helped to pay for. To mark the occasion, we invited Lavinia Schuster, the pioneering organic peasant farmer who, together with her late husband, Willy, helped to found the Romanian smallholders' association, Ecoruralis.

Lavinia came with two of their children, Joel and Sharon, and Sharon's husband, the stonemason, Eloi Thiollier, to try out the mill for the first time. They brought with them lots of their own 8 row flint corn, hard and dry as it should be, as well as a large sack of rye mixed with wheat and spelt grown by an organic farmer in nearby Bazna.

Lavinia Schuster (centre), with her son-in-law, Eloi Thiollier (far left), her son, Joel, on her left, and James and Rachel on her right. We are standing in front of the little mill house built for the purpose. Sharon Schuster Thiollier took the picture!

And having slowly ground the flint corn three times over for a fine, even consistency, Lavinia was satisfied, and we moved into the kitchen where she prepared the cornmeal, by steaming it and then dropping it out in one piece onto a board. Simple, nutritious, and the most delicious mămăliga (or polenta, or grits or suppaun - whichever you prefer) that I have ever tasted.

Just the right texture. The flavour is rich and nutty. We melted Lavinia's own butter and soft cheese on top. Yum!
The village now has, in addition to its magnificent but empty Lutheran church and its long since abandoned steam powered flour mill, a small working stone mill that is accessible, efficient to run & easy to maintain. It is here for those in the village who grow grain and corn from their own, carefully selected seed banks at home, and would like regularly to mill small quantities, for their own consumption.

The meal & flour produced is fresh and complete. Nothing is added, nothing removed. It needs to be consumed within a few days, so there is no point in milling large amounts, unless, of course, there is a wedding or baptism party to celebrate in the village!

The mill is not open to the general public. We do not mill hybrids at all, nor do we grind corn for animal feed.

This is a private, slow food initiative which seeks to respond to a local need. It is hoped that access to affordable, quality stone milling will encourage more villagers to return to growing the old variety corns and wheats, and to continue to cultivate their precious seed banks, valuable stores of genetic diversity. In this way, we hope to make the village even more self-sufficient in the production of quality, slow food.

Thank you all for your support, including Richard & Mercedes, Irina & Alastair, Julia & Rob, Vicky & Andy, Rowena, Nick, Tom & Marie, Elaine, Curzon, Daria, Isabella & Charlie, Audrey, Denisa & Jiří, Nicolas & Joelle, Biddy, Mattie & Norman, Elek & Adrianna, Emma, Tanya and Richard, Luisa and Radu, Gordon, Andrew, Cory & Amy, and Ravenna & Pieter.

Special thanks to the Danish mill manufacturer, Engsko United Milling Systems, and its Romanian representative, Cosmin Petra of Ecorope SRL, for your great discount and the surprise extra grinding stones! And special, special thanks to our neighbours Marcel, Oliviu and Alex for building the millhouse from rescued clay bricks made in the village in the 1860s!!

In good hands: stoneground rye, wheat and spelt

All photos by, well who else but Sharon Schuster Thiollier, whose work can be enjoyed on Instagram @murapadurii

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