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The People Powered Flour MillPrint

Location: Dundee

Designer and craftsman Fergus Walker has come up with an ingenious way to promote local food production.

"We are completely divorced from the food chain," laments Fergus. And this state of affairs so annoyed the 25-year-old, from Camuscross, on the Isle of Skye, that he set about an unusual - and fun - idea to re-connect the community to its local food production: he invented a bicycle-powered grain grinding mill.

His two-wheeled friend - donated by a local bicycle cooperative - is simple to use: it is attached to a hopper which gets filled with grain and, inside, grinding stones do their thing as the pedals are worked. Just three minutes of effort produces enough flour for a large loaf.

Having grown up on his parents' croft, "surrounded by pigs, hens, sowing and weeding", Fergus is familiar with self-sufficiency. But it was a visit to Italy that sparked his quirky idea. Over there, 95% of bread is made by artisan bakers; here in the UK, 98% of loaves are factory-made using energy-intensive processes and additives.

 "When you use human power, rather than just flicking a switch, you make a connection; you see for yourself how much energy it takes to produce flour from wheat," says Fergus. Those who've tried the cycle - which Fergus has been busily taking to various events around the country - also get something back: "There's a real sense of pride," he says, "they look behind them and say: 'wow, did I make all that?'"

The project has also encouraged Fergus to reach out and make connections among like-minded networks. "With blogs, forums and organisations like Team Green Britain, spreading the word is so easy now," says Fergus. "And it's really important to keep doing that."

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