Jeff Zimmerman called me in October 2010 and asked if he could attend the Farmer Chef Connection (an event for local producers and those who buy wholesale, which we sponsor each year along with Slow Food Phoenix). Jeff didn’t have a local product yet, but he had an idea and he wanted to talk with local chefs and farmers and see if they’d be interested.
His idea was to reintroduce stone-ground local grains to the Valley under the Hayden Flour Mills moniker. Jeff attended the conference/exhibit and we profiled his efforts in the Winter 2010 edition of Edible Phoenix.
So it was with great pleasure that I spied these bags of recently milled grains emblazoned with the Hayden FlourMills logo on a recent visit to Singh Farms. I contacted Jeff and asked him for an update. Here’s what he sent me:
“This is seed time for grain crops in Arizona and we have planted heritage White Sonora wheat, along with an ancient grain, emmer (Italian Farro) and hard red spring wheat.We are working with Native Seeds Search in Tucson and Gary Nabhan. Harvest will be at the end of May or first weeks of June. The farmers are:
Steve Sossaman: The Sossaman family has farmed in the Valley for 100 years. Our wheat will be the 100th anniversary crop. His soil is amazing and Steve tells a good story about how the family has sustained it for three generations.
Ramona and Terry Button: Ramona Farms manages 4,000 acres on the Gila River reservation. Ramona is Pima and is reviving the Pima food traditions, so she and Terry have set aside a portion of the land they manage for native crops. The wheat for Hayden Flour Mills was originally purchased from the native people of the Gila. As the settlers came they interrupted the Gila River foodshed by diverting the water and bringing seed not adapted to the desert.…We are looking at the feasibility of having the first load of grain from Gila River delivered to our mill by horse and buckboard. (ramonafarms.com)
Duncan and Susan Blair: Duncan has planted 10 acres of Sonora wheat with Gary Nabhan using traditional methods in Patagonia. Duncan … has strong views on how food is produced. (rscgrassfinishedbeef.com)
Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona: The food bank is growing Sonora wheat at a farm in Marana. It is interesting that they are growing the wheat to feed the poor, not just “elite foodies.” (communityfoodbank.com)
Avalon Gardens: They are an “Eco-Village” in Tumacacori, AZ. They are growing a few acres of Sonora wheat to feed the 100 people that live in their commune. (avalongardens.org)
“Because of you and the Edible Farmer Chef Connection, look at where we are today.”
Congratulations to Jeff and the others making their local-food dreams come true in Arizona. Edible Phoenix is grateful to be able to play a role in bringing together the wide variety of people working to improve the local food scene right now and for the future. You can find the Hayden Flour Mills products at Singh Farms (facebook.com/singhfarms), at Pane Bianco and used as an ingredient at Chris Bianco’s Italian Restaurant (pizzeriabianco.com).
For more information (and to enjoy their blog), see haydenflourmills.com.