Posts filed under Blog

the gleaners

I bet you didn't know that there is a whole genre of grain films. Or maybe it's just that I see grain in everything these days. 

The Gleaners and I (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse) is a art film made by Agnes Varda, a charming but sometimes eccentric film director. She sets off through the French country side to find modern days gleaners and pickers. Varda is inspired by Jean-François Millet's painting of peasants stooped in a wheat field, picking up grain left behind by the reaper.

Varda introduces us to people that pick trash, leftover apples, and rejected potatoes, and she finds that "gleaning might be extinct, but stooping has not vanished from our sated society." Though she never finds Millet's peasants, Varda finds many surprising examples of modern day gleaning.


(Stills from the Gleaners and I. Top: Modern day gleaner cleaning up after a famer's market. Middle: Gleaners in art. Bottom: The filmmaker posing like Jules Breton's Gleaner.)

When we harvest our grain this summer, the combine will inevitably leave some grain behind. I wonder if gleaners come to pick up the leftover heads? 

Posted on June 13, 2012 and filed under Blog.

harvest is here


Do you remember that story about the little red hen? She planted the wheat, she watered the wheat, she harvested the wheat, she ground the wheat into flour, and she baked that flour into bread. And all of the sudden she was very popular with her farm-yard friends.

Well, the wheat gods have been good to us and the fields are turning to amber, so we are going to need YOUR help eating all this grain very soon!

We need you to bake moist seven-layer cakes, the world's softest tortillas, crusty whole grain breads and the silkiest hand-rolled spaghetti.

What do you think? Can you help the little red hen out?

Posted on June 4, 2012 and filed under Blog.

the importance of telling stories

Cross-posted on the Cultivate Santa Cruz blog. Cultivate Santa Cruz is a partner in the Heritage Grain Collaborative.

At farmer’s markets people often ask me, “Who is that old man on the front of your flour bag? Is it your dad?” (Another man with a white beard and the new owner of Hayden Flour Mills).

“No, it’s not my dad,” I have to say.

While my dad is considering dying his hair, I see it as an opportunity to tell some wonderful stories about the man who founded Tempe and Hayden Flour Mills: Charles T. Hayden (1825-1900). These are two of my favorites:


ONE. The legend goes that in 1868, Charles T. Hayden was making his way up to Prescott when he was waylaid by dangerously high waters on the Salt River. While waiting for the waters to subside, he stood on top of Tempe Butte and looked out on the fertile land surrounding him and envisioned an ideal spot to establish a town. In 1874 he put a grist mill at the base of Tempe Butte. In its early days, Hayden Flour Mills milled grain from all over Arizona (mostly White Sonora Wheat) and the mill became a social hub and a prosperous community built up around it.

TWO. In the late 1800’s there was a catastrophic flood on the Salt River. It destroyed neighborhoods and devastated Tempe economically. It is reported that Hayden burned the ledgers of those affected by the flood.  This extreme generosity was characteristic of Hayden’s whole life. At this time Tempe was a conglomeration of European immigrants, Hispanics, Mormon settlers, and the preexisting Native communities (Akimel O’Odhman and Yaqui). Hayden was well respected among all these communities, at a time with relationships between the settlers and the Native populations were tense.

After Charles T. Hayden, the mill was managed by four generations of Hayden’s, but following the national trends and the growing demands of the Phoenix market, the mill become industrialized and closed its doors in 1998. Reviving Hayden Flour Mills is mainly about milling local grains into high quality flours, but it is also about telling stories; using our rich heritage to inspire and inform the restoration of Arizona’s local grain economy.

In many ways, these stories reflect the principles at the heart of Arizona’sHeritage Grain Collaborative: Recognizing and respecting our land as a resource and an excellent place to grow wheat, harnessing the power of a diverse group of farmers, chefs, historians, millers, and seed savers to save a lost food culture, and generously sharing that restored food culture with our community. 

These stories come from a comprehensive, three volume history of the Hayden Flour Mills that was commissioned by the city of Tempe in 2008. Hayden Flour Mill: Landscape, Economy, and Community Diversity in Tempe. Cultural Resources Report no. 143. Tempe, Arizona. August 18, 2008.

Posted on April 25, 2012 and filed under Blog.

emerging wheat


The head of the wheat it starting to emerge from the flag leaf. 

But there aren't any berries inside it yet. It's just a baby. 

Posted on April 17, 2012 and filed under Blog.

nonna's test kitchen

nonna's test kitchen.png

(Photo: Pasta Test #1: Family Dinner. Even the puppy likes it!) 

A few weeks ago we sent our pasta flour away for testing.

A dear friend from grad school agreed to lend us her Nonna. She always had the most enviable lunches. Gnocchi and pappardelle and ravioli. All made with love by Nonna. So who better than to test out our pasta blend? 

To be honest, it's not a fair competition because Nonna could probably make amazing pasta out of sand or jelly beans--she's that skilled!!! But we are going to keep tweaking our pasta flour until it's Nonna approved. 

Posted on April 5, 2012 and filed under Blog.

sacred bread

I recently watched the movie the Mill and the Cross.

I loved how the movie depicted the ceremony surrounding bread.  A mother blesses the bread before she cuts it up for her children by  placing it to her forehead. Another young women places the loaf she just bought to her forehead and then gently carries it under her shirt.

Posted on April 3, 2012 and filed under Blog.

arizona rose vintage

I love these old advertisements. Back in the day, Arizona Rose Flour was Hayden Flour Mills' most famous brand, synonymous with quality baked goods. Do you notice how it says, "made with Arizona soft wheat"? They were still milling Arizona grown wheat!

HFM with bag emma likes (1).jpg
Posted on March 30, 2012 and filed under Blog.

flour at two new locations!

In addition to Singh's Market, you can find our flour products as Phoenix Public Market and Bodega Market in Scottsdale. We are honored to be on their shelves, next to Arizona's best in locally produced foods.  If you haven't been to see the new Bodega Market, you should probably check it out and eat next door while you there!

2012-02-28 16.07.45.jpg
Posted on March 14, 2012 and filed under Blog.

ode to the baker (and the poet)

"I have often maintained that the best poet is he who prepares our daily bread: the nearest baker who does not imagine himself to be a god. He does his majestic and unpretentious work of kneading the dough, consigning it to the oven, baking it in golden colours and handing us our daily bread as a duty of fellowship. And, if the poet succeeds in achieving this simple consciousness, this too will be transformed into an element in an immense activity, in a simple or complicated structure which constitutes the building of a community, the changing of the conditions which surround mankind, the handing over of mankind's products: bread, truth, wine, dreams."

Pablo Neruda

crop rows.png

 Photo: The field at Sossaman Farms.

Posted on February 17, 2012 and filed under Blog.

checkin' on the crops


From the nearby road the crop blurs into a green lawn. But if you stop your car and get out you'll see that the grass is growing in neat rows. And if you get down on your knees and pretend you are a cow you will start to see what is really going on. You will notice that the White Sonora is coming up in thick patches and that the Emmer is more blue than green and has tall fuzzy blades. 

It all depends on how fast you are moving. 

Photo: White Sonora Wheat 31 days after planting. 

Posted on February 13, 2012 and filed under Blog.

Ramona Farms


If you are a real Phoenix foodie then you've heard of the Tepary bean. And you have Ramona and Terry Button to thank for putting this desert bean back on your plate. 

The Buttons have a beautiful farm in the Gila River Community where they grow a variety of beans and durum wheat. We mill their durum into semolina to make vibrant yellow pasta. (The Buttons are helping us mill their durum in the photo.)

But I have to tell you these people are more than ordinary farmers; they have an incredible vision for restoring the Gila River land to its former glory. I've also heard that Mr. Button knows how to hunt with stone tipped arrows. Which tells you this guy knows what he's doing!

Check out their products here

(Thanks to Brandy Button for the photo)

Posted on January 31, 2012 and filed under Blog.

flavors without borders

flavors without borders.jpg
gary flavors without borders.jpg

When we were down at Grain School we got to check out Gary's new contraption.

It's wooden box on wheels. A very beautiful wooden box.

But if you tap on it just right, it pops open to reveal all sorts of desert treats. The idea is to travel around and teach about Arizona food history and culture.

Ther's no doubt that the Arizona Heritage Food Wagon will turn curious heads where ever it goes. The baskets of acorns and mesquite pods just beg to be tasted and touched. 

It's all part of the Flavors Without Borders project. Very cool. 

Posted on January 18, 2012 and filed under Blog.

grain school snapshots

outdoor polenta.jpg
farro piccolo.jpg
Sifting Polenta.jpg

1. A rustic blue corn polenta. Shelled and milled by a collective effort, and cooked by the chefs from Canela on an outdoor grill.

2.What is Farro Piccolo? It's another word for Einkorn, the first domesticated variety of wheat. 

3. A mix of ancient corn varieties out at the Native Seed/SEARCH research farm. Hopefully this colorful corn will be back on our tables someday soon!

4. Sifting out the cornmeal, polenta and grits after a stone milling demo. 

Thanks to Belle and Bill and the wonderful people at Native Seeds/SEARCH for the first ever Grain School!

Posted on January 17, 2012 and filed under Blog.

a time for planting


It was a perfect day for planting. Today the White Sonora Wheat went into the ground out at Sossaman Farms. We helped Steve Sossaman and Al load up the drill (that's the green thing behind the tractor) with seed but mostly pretended to be farmers.

The seed will hang out in the ground through winter and start to come up in the spring. By May we should have 10 acres of amber waves!

Posted on December 27, 2011 and filed under Blog.

Tempe in 1877

...Grain looks well and the indications are of a beautiful harvest, the soild is almost excellent producing crops in profusions, the water supply of the valley is ample, and the purity and softness of the water is proverbial. Here the young and vigorous man can advantageously plant themselves on rich farms an increase in means which the country is growing. Your, Robert Daniels, 1877
Posted on November 22, 2011 and filed under Blog.

chapalote corn


I wanted to show you the dark coffee color of the chapolote corn. The cobs that we milled last week were a lighter variation. Hopefully the next crop will come in these beautiful dark browns.

This cob is from Native Seeds/Search.  The great folks down there have been teaching us alot about the rich agricultural history of the southwest. If you haven't yet, go check out their selection of indigenous and heritage seeds on their website!

Posted on November 17, 2011 and filed under Blog.

the old mill

There is an article in today's State Press about the renovation of the old mill building on Mill Avenue. We're excited to see the mill get a fresh coat of paint but more excited for this important piece of Tempe history get some attention. 

We've always said that the re-establishment of Hayden Flour Mills is in the spirit of the mill that Charles T. Hayden founded in 1872. Simply put. Charles T. Hayden was a great man. He had a vision for Tempe and Arizona and he was known as a friend to all people. 

Before the roller mills and bleached flour, Hayden Flour Mills was powered by the Salt River and stone milled the wheat that came from Arizona farms, mostly grown by the Pima Indians. Today we would call this flour fancy, organic, local, unbleached or natural. But in 1872, that's just how it was. 

We hope that the restoration of the mill building is also a restoration of some of the things that Charles T. Hayden valued: the land, the people and good tasting flour. 

old mill with truch infront.jpg
Posted on November 16, 2011 and filed under Blog.

california wheat commission

With Marco big.jpg

 A few weeks ago we got to meet some great people from the California and Arizona wheat commission. They are the people that ensure the quality of our wheat. Janice Cooper (on the right) is the California wheat commissioner and a lover of the artisan loaf!  e i 

Posted on November 15, 2011 and filed under Blog.