August 23, 2022 // by Jason White
I’ve heard it said that. over the past few years, we’ve seen a back to the land movement on a level never before seen in this nation. As the monolith of centralized and industrialized food production continues it’s decline, more and more people are taking a step or two back and learning how to do things in ways that have mostly been lost over the past few generations. Many of us are eager to learn but at a real deficit in direct learning as a result of the cultural shift toward convenience over the past several decades.
My guest today has a different story than most of us as his family has occupied the same piece of land for about 200 years, living in ways that many of us are trying to learn today. His name is Justin Metcalf and he is not only an 8th generation homesteader but he is also what is known as a traditional millwright. His Youtube channel “Metcalf Mills” is a fantastic resource for those interested in learning traditional skills, as well as those with a curiosity about Appalachian history.
In our conversation, Justin shares the history of his grandfather’s grain mill and how, after several decades of neglect and disrepair, he was able to bring new life into that old milling equipment. I ask him some specifics about homestead level grain production and he describes how he does things on his farm to keep his family fed. We discuss the decline of the community grain mill and he shares some exciting news of his plans to bring them back to life.