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  • From Seed to Slice: Illinois Field Trip

From Seed to Slice: Illinois Field Trip

  • 06/24/2024
  • 7:00 AM - 5:00 PM (CDT)
  • 15


June 24 / 7:00am - 5:00 pm

Hey Midwestern bakers! Spend a day connecting with your most important ingredients: wheat, rye, and other small grains. We will meet-up at award-winning Floriole Bakery in Chicago, a champion of local, organic produce. After a little breakfast, we will take a 1.5-2 hour bus ride to Ashkum, IL for a Field Trip to Janie’s Farm Organic and Janie’s Mill

The day's itinerary:

  • 7:00 am Meet at Floriole  Address: 1220 W. Webster Ave., Chicago, IL 60614 
  • 8:00am Bus to Janie’s Farm Address: 854 County Road 2300 N, Danforth, IL 60930
  • 10:00  am - 11:30 am  Tour Janie's Farm 
  • 11:30 am - 12:15 pm Lunch 
  • 12:15 pm -12:30 pm Travel to Janie’s Mill Address:  405 N Second Street, Ashkum, IL 60911)
  • 12:30pm - 3:00 pm Tour Janie's Mill  
  • 3 pm  Depart Janie’s Mill  
  • 5: 00 pm Return to Floriole

This tour is an opportunity to meet fellow bakers and explore the local grain economy. You will connect with wheat, ripening in the field, learn about planting and growing successful midwestern grains in a changing climate, and best practices in organics. At Janie’s Mill, you will see an Engsko composite stone mill in action, a hammer mill, a flaker and more.  

Janie’s Farm Organics began in 2001. After 23 years of conventional farming, the farmers, Harold and Sandy Wilken, transitioned to organic practices. Janie's Farm has steadily grown from 700 acres to over 3,000 acres of certified organic land—primarily growing small grains.  

Janie’s Mill was a natural offshoot of the farm, in an effort to close the grain chain.  Janie’s Mill manager, Jill Brockman-Cummings, mills whole grains, cracked grains, and flours in their Engsko Danish mill. They supply much of the Midwest with their locally grown offerings.  

The day will conclude with a return to Floriole. On the bus ride home, we will quite literally digest what we learned on the trip. We arrive back in Chicago around 5.  

We are grateful the Artisan Grain Collaborative for partnering with us to keep this field trip affordable! 

Good food, especially bread, became an important part of Jill Brockman-Cummings life after she spent a year abroad in Luxembourg when in high school, and then a semester abroad in France when in college. That was the beginning of her desire to be part of the good food movement. This desire continued when raising her four daughters in the rural Midwest, surrounded by conventional farms spraying agrichemicals.  So, when her organic farmer neighbor Harold Wilken drove up one day and asked if she would like to be a miller at the organic mill he was thinking of building, she jumped on it. 
Together Jill and Harold toured other small stone mills across the country, and eventually built Janie's Mill where Jill is Mill Manager. In that capacity she runs our certified organic stone-milling operation where they mill dozens of varieties of grains, many of which are grown just a few miles down the road on Janie’s Farm. She has managed all aspects of Janie’s Mill since its inception over 6 years ago, including strategic planning, day-to-day operations, monitoring quality of grains and milled products, developing new products, and working with both online retail and wholesale customers. She also participates in our regional Artisan Grain Collaborative and other groups to create and strengthen the Midwest Regional Grain Chain. 

Harold Wilken is the the driving force behind both Janie's Farm and Janie's Mill.  A lifelong farmer, Harold began transitioning to organic production in the early 2000s. He started the transition on a small 33-acre field, and now farms over 3,000 acres of certified organic grains with his son Ross, nephew Tim Vaske, and other farm team members.  As 4th and 5th generation farmers, Harold and Ross are continuing their family’s tradition of caring for the soil and growing good food for their community. Harold explains, “I remember the way my grandparents farmed—without the use of pesticides, and with a focus on nurturing strong soil health. I continue in their footsteps and seek to leave the soil deeper, richer, and healthier than I found it." 

Around 2014, Harold had an Aha! moment that was the beginning of Janie's Mill. As he was loading tons of his organic grain into a semi, he thought: "Really?! My grain has to go 700 miles to feed chickens, when there’s all these people nearby who bake bread?” 
Of course it took years of research, planning, and construction before the first grains from Janie's Farm passed through the millstones of Janie's Mill in the spring of 2017. Stone-milling is both an art and a science, and we relied on the input and feedback of professional bakers to get us to the point where we were milling consistent, high quality flours that earned kudos from both home and professional bakers. We’ve been milling those flours, and adding more to meet bakers’ specific needs, ever since. We now serve bakers, brewers, distillers, tofu-makers, and others throughout the United States.  

Harold has been married for 39 years to newly retired teacher, Sandy. In their free time, Harold and Sandy love to travel to Miami to visit their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.  Janie’s Mill and Janie's Farm are both named in honor of Harold and Sandy's daughter Janie who passed away in 2001 at the age of 15.

Sandra Holl was born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, graduated with a BA in French literature from the University of Colorado, taught English to high school students in France and worked in marketing in the Bay Area before discovering her love of food and cooking.  After volunteering as a prep cook for a non-profit and staging at a few restaurants she decided to sign-up at the California Culinary Academy. She spent her externship and the following years working at Tartine Bakery. Sandra and her husband, Mathieu, left San Francisco for Chicago and started Floriole in a tent at the Chicago Green City Market. They have grown their business into a flourishing full service cafe and bakery in Lincoln Park specializing in French inspired pastries rooted in midwestern ingredients. The bakery has been named among the top 10 bakeries in the US, has received a Chicago Tribune Dining Award and is recognized as having some of the best bread in the country. Sandra has contributed to Bon Appetit and Sweet Paul magazines, appeared on Martha Stewart and Unique Sweets. In 2016 she was named Pastry Chef of the Year at the Jean Banchet Awards. 

Floriole has since been recognized among the top 10 bakeries in the country, has received a Chicago Tribune Dining Award and is known for having some of the best bread and pastries around. 


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