WACO, Texas – Texas farmer Grady Phelan loves to plant and plow the old-fashioned way. He has just harvested a bunch of wheat by hand.
“We tie it up, thresh it, and then we clean the wheat, so there’s a lot of stuff to do,” Phelan said.
Phelan is part of an ecclesial community. They live and work on 530 acres just north of Waco.
There is no fancy machinery, just a horse and a plow and old-fashioned hard work.
“I want to stay as connected as possible to the earth. I want to stay as connected as possible to people,” said Phelan.
All that wheat ends up at the flour mill down the road. A large water wheel feeds everything inside the mill to turn wheat into flour.
“When the pioneers came from Europe, one of the first things they built was the blacksmith, then the flour mill where they grinded their flour. As a community, this is what we are trying to do, ”said flour mill manager Kash Nathan.
The mill itself dates from the 1800s. The building was constructed in 1760.
“He was neglected for a long time. We have a business in our community that is looking for old barns that are restoring them and destroying them, ”Nathan said.
Every part of the building was taken down from New Jersey and carefully assembled in Waco.
Besides a history lesson, visitors are also introduced to freshly ground flour.
“It’s good. It’s healthy. We don’t put any preservatives. Its non-GMO. It’s organic wheat,” Nathan said.
Just last year, old-fashioned flour making encountered a 21st century pandemic. That’s when the flour mill overheated, producing tons of flour for those who couldn’t find it anywhere else. It’s part of the spirit of generosity here. It’s all about community.
“I have five children. My two oldest are boys. They love to be on the farm. It gives them a place to grow, learn to work, learn right from wrong and the implications of their decisions. It’s true. It’s not a program, it’s just life, ”said Phelan.