British Columbia

B.C. "flour peddlers" empower South Sudan village

When Chris and Josh Hergesheimer started grinding flour with a bike-powered mill, they never thought the contraption would go from being a curious device at local farmers' markets to an essential piece of equipment at a South Sudan village.

The Hergesheimers' bike mill helped create micro enterprise opportunities at an African village

Chris Hergesheimer is the founder of the Flour Peddler. (Flour Peddler)

When brothers Chris and Josh Hergesheimer started grinding flour for sale using a handmade bicycle-powered mill on the Sunshine Coast, they never thought the contraption would go from being a curious device at local farmers' markets to an essential piece of equipment at a South Sudan village.

The Hergesheimer brothers recently wrote a book, The Flour Peddler: A Global Journey into Local Food from Canada to South Sudan, to detail their journey.

"I didn't have any land to grow wheat and I was a terrible baker — the breads that I made were more like door stops," Chris told North By Northwest's Sheryl MacKay.

"But I thought … I could talk to people at the farmers' market about grain and flour and bread."

The brothers never did make much money from their enterprise. But an encounter with a friend from the village of Panlang in South Sudan gave their business a new purpose.

"[The friend] saw something that was very practical — a food processing capability in a place where there's no electricity, where people don't have a lot of other options, and it's very remote," said Josh.

The brothers headed to Panlang, where they say the villagers quickly saw that the bicycle mill would allow them to grind more flour than they need, thus giving them an opportunity to sell the excess to others.

Josh says they had always wanted the bicycle mill to be a way to save time, and not to be something that would replace traditional methods of food processing or create dependency.

"We were always concerned in the beginning that maybe they'd look at it and they'd think it was a novelty, but they quickly realized this was something that could save them some time and could create micro enterprise opportunities," he said.

The Hergesheimer brothers will read from their new book at 7 p.m. PT at The Book Warehouse in Vancouver on Monday.

To hear the full interview with the Hergesheimer brothers, listen to the audio labelled: Made-in-B.C. bike-powered mills empower South Sudan village


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