Lily Vallières and Robert Beauchemin, owners of La Meunerie Milanaise inc., have been producing organic cereal grains on their farm in Quebec’s Eastern Townships area since 1977. The organic industry was at its dawn in the seventies so there were few market opportunities for organic cereal grains. It was thus decided to build a small on-farm mill (36 m2). It was in 1982 that the first set of stones went into production; the mill was designed in the US and the stones were of pink granite from North Carolina, well known for their hardness, which is an essential quality to provide quality milling.
Stone milling is an art : while there were many stone mills in operation at the turn of the previous century in Quebec, it is a trade that was pratically lost. We had to learn the art of milling over the past twenty years. To maintain and enhance the quality of milled flour, a miller must re-surface his stones after a certain tonnage. This is a laborious process where the mill must be taken apart to resurface the stones with a pneumatic hammer.
Our first mill had a 20 inches (55 cm) stone and was driven by a stationary engine. Its 200 kg/hr capacity was sufficient to market the forty tons of flour produced from our crops. After our second year of milling, our market had expanded beyond our farm’s production capability, which forced us to network with organic farmers in our area, in Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and the USA. Continuous development of micro-bakeries and bakeries as well as the strong growth of the organic industry led us from one mill to two and then four mills!
Wishing to further develop products with added value, the owners of la Meunerie Milanaise decided in 1996 to initiate a new division that would produce a full line of organic traditional Italian pasta made from the organic semolina and flours produced at the mill. These pastas are commercialized under the appellation ALEGRIA..
The on-farm location could no longer accommodate the growth and future needs. In 1997, a new larger plant was built in the town of Milan so that all production and staff could be centralised in one location. Our new state of the art production facility (1,500 m2 – 15,000 sq-ft) has a storage capacity for over 1,200 metric tons of cereal grains in Milan.
In 2004, the arrival of steel grinding wheels with a production capacity of 18 tons a day allowed us to offer our customers high-quality white flours adapted for special bakery products. More than 75% of the wheat used comes from Quebec’s producers. We also plan to increase our purchases of Quebec’s products to encourage wheat culture in Quebec as well as its environment protection.
Our processing capacity is around 110 metric tons of organic flour weekly. We produce a range of flours with bolting rate (sifting) varying from 100% (integral flours) to 64% (unbleached white flours). Our packaging equipment can bag up to 30 units per minute.