Hayden Flour Mills, an Arizona upstart flour producer of heritage grains, will receive a major publicity push from living mogul Martha Stewart after her company announced Friday that the mill won a national contest focusing on artisanal goods.
The business was named one of 10 winners in the Martha Stewart American Made awards. It will win $10,000 along with exposure in Stewart’s magazine, Martha Stewart Living, as well as on her satellite radio channel and website. There is also an event in New York in early November.
Jeff Zimmerman started his company in 2010 with an idea, the rights to the historic name of the flour, but little else. Piece by piece, he assembled what he needed to create the kind of soft flour he grew up with in the farm country of North Dakota.
Zimmerman found seed specialists who had the kind of heritage wheat varieties that used to flourish in Arizona. He found farmers willing to plant them. He bought a massive stone mill and found a restaurateur, James Beard Award winner Chris Bianco, who had the space for him to house it.
His flour has been sold to several chefs and bakers. It is available on the shelves in a dozen Whole Foods Markets in the Phoenix area, Zimmerman said.
“The growth is faster than we can handle,” he said.
Zimmerman has moved his mill out of Bianco’s Phoenix bakery and sandwich shop, Pane Bianco, and into temporary quarters in Gilbert.
He is working with farmer Steve Sossaman to create a home for his mill close to some of the land where the wheat is grown. Zimmerman said it will cut trucking and production costs, and serve as a showcase for the milling process. He expects the operation to open in November.
Zimmerman said more farmers are interested in planting the ancient grain varietals. He started with Sossaman and two other farmers planting three varieties of wheat. He now has six farmers planting 14 types.
Zimmerman hopes the organic and heritage flour market can grow like the organic and heritage vegetable market. He is telling bakers they should buy their own mills, even though it would cut into his business, since he believes it will raise interest in the locally sourced wheat.
“A rising tide lifts all boats,” Zimmerman said. “We are close to leading the country with our grain movement.”