On June 6th, I took a group of our managers and chefs on a tour to Susquehanna Mill, a local and sustainable business that grows, processes and converts seeds into oil. Susquehanna Mills has established a niche in the local sustainable food world. For Josh Leidhecker it was just a natural progression. Josh is one of those guys that sees an opportunity and runs with it and that’s what he did.
We’re currently purchasing their Canola oil to make our house made salad dressings. The goal of the tour was to see first hand how these seeds were converted to the oil that we use in our locations. We began in the fields where we had a chance to see the rape seed (canola) in partial bloom, having been in full bloom (vibrate yellow) only a week prior. The specific field that we visited was scheduled to be harvested on August 30th. Susquehanna Mills grows a variety of GMO Free rape seed that he has to purchase from Europe since it’s difficult to source a non-GMO variety in the US. The variety they grow is called Dynasty and it yields 70 bushels per acre or 200 gallons of pressed oil. The average crop yield for the industry is a little over 40 bushels; however Susquehanna Mills has been able to increase this yield due to good soil agronomy.
We left the fields and headed to the facility in which the seeds are processed into oil. The seeds are stored in silos outside of the facility and are screened via a seed shaker to ensure that no weeds or other foreign material are sent to the press.
One of the things that separate Susquehanna Mills from the rest of the industry is the mechanical process in which they extract the pressed oil. Chemically extracted methods are more common. They believe there method offers lower saturated fats, higher stability, and more Omega-3 fatty acids than the chemically extracted method.
The press uses pressure to crush the seeds and extract the oil. The solid by-product from pressing the seeds is sold to local dairy farms as a high protein feed stock.
As I continue to focus and drive sustainability into our company, it’s important to fully understand the revenue streams as well as the capacity of our farmers and manufacturers.
We found this tour to be extremely educational and eye opening. Our hope is to work with Susquehanna Mills on helping them increase their means of distribution so more of our locations can benefit from this local sustainable canola oil.
Until next time,