Hammermill Page

The Desert Harvesters hammermill is available for your community’s milling event: click here for more info.

What is a hammermill?
A hammermill is an industrial mill for making flour. Our community hammermill was purchased exclusively for making mesquite flour. The hammermill easily breaks up the mesquite pods and some of the hard seeds to produce quality flour containing both carbohydrates and protein. While not designed specifically for mesquite pods, it is the best tool we’ve found that will make mesquite flour in large quantities, while also saving a lot of time compared to labor-intensive hand grinding or blender methods.

Desert Harvesters hammermill at Tucson Meet Yourself 2008

How our hammermill is set up and operated
We use a Meadows Mills No. 5 hammermill mounted on a trailer for mobility. (NOTE: If you purchase a Meadows Mills hammermill, let them know we referred you to them, and they’ll make a donation to Desert Harvesters.) We chose a trailer with standard-sized automotive tires, since we found many tire repair facilities do not work on smaller trailer tires. In addition, the larger tires position the mill at a perfect operating height if the operator stands on the ground behind the trailer (the operator can stand up straight when feeding mesquite pods into the mill).

Our mill is gas-powered so we can set up anywhere, independent of electricity. We originally mistakenly purchased a three-phase electric motor, but it was too hard to find power at most sites. A diesel motor was considered to utilize biodiesel or waste vegetable oil (recycled cooking grease), but a farmer advised us that the diesel exhaust fumes could have potentially contaminated the mesquite flour.

Our mill’s current motor is an electric start with back-up pull start (recoil starter) motor. This works much better than our old pull-start-only motor, which was tiring for hammermill operators.

The ideal set up — a motor with pull start and electric start.

Model GX390U1QNE2
– Overhead valve, commercial-grade horizontal engine
– Electronic ignition with 10-amp charge coil
– Recoil starter
– Low-oil alert
– Cast iron cylinder liner
– Ball-bearing-supported crank shaft
– Approximate engine weight of 90 pounds
– Shaft, 1″ x 3 31/64″

Note: When we had an exclusively pull-start motor, the rope would snap about once a year. Here is a video that shows you how to replace and tension the rope.

The gas motor is mounted on an adjustable steel base bolted to the trailer. If we need to tighten the belts (from motor to mill) we can tighten an adjusting bolt on the motor’s base that pulls the motor further from the mill.

We use a heavy-duty 1/64 inch screen within the mill which yields a finely ground flour.

Meadows Mills provided us with ductwork, a funnel bag, and a filter bag. The ductwork directs the screened mesquite flour from the mill’s fan to the funnel bag, and then a large garbage can in which the flour collects. We clamp the funnel bag to the ductwork with a bungee cord so it can be quickly removed or replaced as needed. Flour dust (pastry flour) is collected in the filter bag. Note: We reduced the length (and height) of some of our ductwork for the 2014 season to make set-up and breakdown easier. This change was inspired by BASA‘s successes with their hammermill alterations.

When someone brings mesquite pods to be ground, we inspect the pods to make sure they are dry (snap in two when bent) so they won’t bind the mill from excessive moisture, clean (no rocks, dirt, or debris that could damage the screen or mill), and free of black mold. We schedule our millings in the very dry month of June, when native bean trees have bountiful, mold-free harvests preceding the summer rainy season, though other organizations hire us for milling events post-summer after the high dew point of the summer monsoon rainy season has dropped.

After inspecting the pods we run them through the mill. Once they’ve run through, we turn off the mill, empty the flour from the filter bag into a bucket, and we remove the chaff from atop the screen in the milling compartment. Chaff removal is the slowest part of the process because you must make sure the chaff does not slip by the screen into the lower compartment from which screened flour will be blown into the filter bag. Chaff must also be removed from around the mill’s blades. All this can be done by hand, but the fastest method is to use a wet/dry shop vacuum dedicated solely for chaff removal. The chaff collected by the vacuum can then be reused to make mesquite drinks, mesquite beer, or fed to livestock. If chaff is not regularly removed, the mill will overwork the motor and the pods will not be properly ground and the motor could overheat and be damaged. For every 5 gallons of whole pods run through the mill, the mill is shut off and the chaff removed.

Eye- and ear-protection and closed-toe shoes are required gear for all those operating the equipment.

Community Millings in Tucson
Desert Harvesters hosts an annual milling day/fiesta in Tucson, Arizona with native plant foods, medicines, and demonstrations, harvesting tips, mesquite-pod tastings (so you can learn to discern good-tasting pods from bad-tasting pods), and mesquite milling, with our community hammermill doing the grinding. The gathering is held in June before the summer rains in order to facilitate the safest, highest-quality harvests and mesquite flour. There is a much greater risk of potentially toxic invisible molds growing on pods which are harvested after the rains have begun. Thus we harvest before the rains, as was traditionally done, and as of yet have never found any problems with our pre-rain harvested pods. Click here for our Calendar of Events. The only stipulation is that the milling be for home consumption (non-commercial) use only. See www.desertharvesters.org/how-we-run-mesquite-millings for more.

An annual milling day is also held just north of Benson in Cascabel, Arizona, in the fall. The current contact (as of 2016) for more information is Gail Loveland: gail.loveland@gmail.com.

THE DESERT HARVESTERS HAMMERMILL IS AVAILABLE FOR YOUR COMMUNITY’S MILLING EVENT

Our mesquite mill has been mounted on a trailer to make it mobile, so we can take it around to various neighborhoods or communities wanting to organize their own milling events.

Click to download a template of the Desert Harvesters MillingTerms (revised February 1, 2017), a summary of what Desert Harvesters and your organization each agree to provide for confirmed milling events.

To request a reservation of the hammermill for your milling event, contact our milling coordinator at chaff@DesertHarvesters.org with your first (and second) choice of dates.

What we provide:

The hammermill and two trained operators.

However, we also require the organization hosting the milling event to provide three trained volunteers to manage the public, inspect pods pre-milling, give guidance on how to taste and harvest the best and safest pods, take payment, and provide milling tickets. Such volunteers can be trained by attending our pre-season training. In addition, volunteers are encouraged to volunteer at another event preceding theirs, so they can gain additional experience. That way more people learn best practices and can better share this information with others. Volunteers must show up at least 30 minutes before milling is scheduled to begin. Note: Desert Harvesters does not provide insurance coverage for any volunteer help. If such insurance is to be provided, it is the responsibility of the event-hosting organization.

We recommend you first attend one of our events to see how we organize millings and to give you ideas for your own. It’s up to you if you provide food or not, though we find food, such as mesquite pancakes, is one of the best ways to bring people together and to introduce them to the delicious potential of mesquite flour.

To request a reservation of the hammermill for your milling event, contact our milling coordinator at chaff@DesertHarvesters.org with your first (and second) choice of dates.

OTHER HAMMERMILLS & MESQUITE MILLING ORGANIZATIONS

The numbers of mesquite millings and those with hammermills grinding mesquite pods are growing! See below:

SOUTHWESTERN UNITED STATES:

ARIZONA

Cascabel Conservation Association, Cascabel, Arizona.
Hammermill obtained in 1998
Organizers of the first community mesquite milling, and the annual mesquite milling and mesquite pancake and waffle breakfast in Cascabel, Arizona.
Contact: The current contact (as of 2016) is Gail Loveland, gail.loveland@gmail.com.

Tohono O’odham Community College, Sells, Arizona
Hammermill obtained in 2008
Contact: Clifford Pablo, cfpablo@tocc.cc.az.us

San Xavier Farm Cooperative, Tucson, Arizona
Hammermill obtained in 2008
Contact: San Xavier Farm Co-op main office (520) 295-3774

Prescott College, Prescott/Chino Valley, Arizona
Hammermill obtained in 2008
Currently unavailable (Summer 2013) pending fundraising for repairs.
Contact: Allison Jack, Agroecology Faculty, allison.jack@prescott.edu, or (928) 778-2090 x 2205

Baja Arizona Sustainable Agriculture (BASA), Bisbee, Arizona
Hammermill obtained in 2010
www.bajaaz.org

Arivaca Community Center, Arivaca, Arizona
Organizes and facilitates pod millings and native food sales during the ACC Fall Harvest Festival (for details visit www.arivaca.net).
Contact David Perino (520) 306-4673 or Peter Leon (520) 780-1450 in Arivaca

Tucson Community Food Bank
Hammermill put in service in 2015
communityfoodbank.org

TEXAS

• Ozona Flour Mill & Goods, Ozona, Texas
Hammermill obtained in 2012
Guy & Patsy Hester own and operate a Meadows Mills #5 hammermill in a humidity-controlled facility. They harvest and mill their own mesquite pods and sell the mesquite flour as well as using it in baked goods which are for sale along with other wild-food products such as prickly-pear and wild-berry jams. They offer a mesquite-milling service as well. As of summer 2016, the minimum volume of pods they mill is 5 gallons for $20; each additional gallon is $5.
www.facebook.com/OzonaFlourMill
(325) 450-4419 | (325) 450-0152
guyhester164@yahoo.com

MEXICO:

SONORA

• Rancho La Inmaculada de Los Aguirre, Pitiquito, Sonora
This family-owned ranch harvests mesquite pods and mills them into flour which they sell throughout Mexico. They also harvest and sell mesquite wood products. They strive to regenerate the health of their land and watershed with water harvesting, holistic-management grazing practices, and more.
www.RanchoLaInmaculada.com

DESERT HARVESTERS HAMMERMILL OPERATION MANUAL

Desert Harvesters Hammermill Operation Manual 2016