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The historic Skowhegan County Jail was repurposed as a gristmill and is now the home to Maine Grains

The historic Skowhegan County Jail was repurposed as a gristmill and is now the home to Maine Grains

Sara Forbus

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Maine Grains

A visit to the Maine Grains milling facility and the community of Skowhegan is simulteneously a step back in time and a vantage point towards the future. The gristmill, in collaboration with small Maine farms, farmer's markets, farm to table restaurants, bakeries, malt houses and craft breweries is a key component of Maine's agricultural and local-food experience. Maine Grains bold idea to repurpose a jailhouse into a gristmill has created a national following and Skowhegan has successfully established itself as one of the country’s emerging rural ‘food hubs.’

Maine was once the center of New England grain production. Today, due to infrastructure improvements and collaborative efforts there are emerging opportunities to grow and sell grain throughout the northeast. With an increasing focus on local and organic, burgeoning demand has aligned with artisan bakeries, craft breweries and the local food movement. Maine's revitalized grain economy has helped provide focus for economic and community development at the grassroots level in Skowhegan at this time in history.

Further, in aligment with sustainable business practices the mill has created a ripple effect, a zero-waste ecosystem that not only supports bakers and brewers but its by-products are sold to livestock producers and waste is composted. Chaff cleaned from the grains is sold as animal bedding, garden mulch and even as a medium for growing mushrooms. Flour deemed inconsistent in grind or particle size is also sold inexpensively to hunger relief efforts, correctional facilities and schools.

As an important component of Maine's agricultural and local-food portfolio and in conjunction with the growing interest in agricultural tourism, the Maine Grains mill offers fun and informative tours of its historic facility and milling operations. Freshly milled products and baking accesories are also available at the mill's retail dry goods store. For more information please visit the Maine Grains website.

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