John Letts is an organic farmer, plant breeder and archaeologist based in Buckinghamshire, and has been working with ‘heritage’ grains for over 25 years. Heritage Harvest Ltd., a company he set up in 2006, was the first to sell genuine heritage grain flour (i.e. made from pre-1900 varieties) in the UK.
John believes we must draw ‘lessons from the past’ in order to improve the yield, resilience and sustainability of modern grain production. Medieval-style ‘populations’ of cereals he developed using ‘evolutionary’ plant breeding methods are now being grown on farms throughout England for baking, brewing and distilling. These crops are genetically diverse and therefore resilient and able to adapt to climate change, and they can be grown in low input conditions using ‘restorative’ methods that sequester carbon, increase biodiversity, and do not require crop rotation, tillage, manuring or artificial inputs.
John is working with the Heritage Grain Trust to ensure that this new sector is honest with consumers, and offers growers a way forward that is based on scientific evidence and sound agronomic practice.