After fourteen years as owner and operator of Natural Bridge Bakery, hauling firewood, running a chainsaw, tending to a massive wood-fired brick oven, raising a daughter, and a variety of cultures that leavened her breads, Jennifer asked herself, what comes next for a spent wood-fired brick oven baker?
She traded in her apron, peel, and chainsaw, for coveralls, respirator, and electric pallet jack. Though mostly these days, her time is spent managing our team. With a Masters in Creative Nonfiction, and Certification in Forklift Operation and Safety, she forges ahead. Whether brokering agreements with growers, conferring with a wheat breeder, encouraging a pastry chef to inspire us with our flour, or WhatsApp'ing with her daughter who is now in college overseas, Jennifer maintains an attitude of anything is possible.
What are the ingredients for the perfect miller? Well, she’s a former Marine, has a degree in Religious Studies, and has bakery experience. Kimberly came to us via recommendations from La Farm Bakery in Cary, NC and EVO Craft Bakery in Charleston, SC. She learned quickly the craft of milling and can now be found in our mill room, literarily with her nose to the grindstone. These days she is splitting her time between flour and malt-- working part time for us and part time for the Riverbend Malthouse malting local grains for the brewing industry.
Outside the mill room she's likley conjuring some culinary magic in her kitchen with a stout, or black tea, or balsamic reduction, dogs at her side, and a pint of some fine home-brew.
Although Lydia was neither a Marine nor a Religious Studies major, she brings her own unique blend to the role of MILLER. A formerly trained percussionist, Lydia marched in both high school band and was bass drum section leader of Morehead College band (who doesn't love a marching band!!) ---- she was also in the percussion ensemble and the symphony band. Outside the music realm, Lydia splits her time between flours and flowers-- she works for us part time as MILLER and queen of online sales, and she works for Flowers By Larry. In the evenings, she's the drummer for Motown Blue and there's rumor of a Latin band in the works... In addition to flours and flowers and music, there's a flock of chickens that Layla the puppy, Lydia, and her partner, Kevin are trying to keep safe from coyotes.
Tara Jensen owns and operates Smoke Signals bakery, producing naturally leavened breads using Carolina Ground Flour. Her excitement about wheat pulled her into the Mill where she began learning the details of the business from the inside out. She helped develop our website and although most of her time these days is spent baking and teaching at Smoke Signals, she's a monthly contributor to our recipe blog.
Bobo is the mill mascot. He worries that if we don’t sell enough flour, he will be our next meal.
extended family members:
Sean lives and works in Kentucky, where he teaches agriculture and related topics at Berea College. But in 2013 he took leave from teaching and considered himself fortunate to be apprenticing with Carolina Ground. As a big fan of gluten and the wonderful products that come from it, we were lucky to have him. What he gleaned from his experiences in Asheville, he brought back to the Bluegrass State for the opening of the new Berea College farm store laboratory.
A journeyman electrician, former employee of the Square D plant (we are located in the former Square D plant), and Asheville native (rumor has it he was actually born in Brooklyn), Stewart came to us with mechanical skills and a desire to learn the craft of milling. He literally helped get our mill started by installing the starter. And then he was interested in what this mill would do. For our first year, Stewart learned the craft and then led the charge as our head miller. Although he has stepped away as miller, we still consider him part of the family. He enjoys fishing and r & b and has a knack for pizza making.