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.
Jennifer sits on the board of Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, on the Advisory Committee to the Hospitality Program of AB-Tech Community College, and is Co-Chair of the Asheville Artisan Bread Festival. In her spare time, she hopes to be on her road bike, cycling with her husband Scott.
Scott came to us after a decade and a half in the restaurant industry. Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park trained, his tenure in the restaurant world brought him into kitchens in Palm Beach, Chicago, Sonoma, and Durham. Scott was ready to segue out of the restaurant world and was looking for a way to get closer to the source of his ingredients and at the same time, we were looking for a new miller. His training was swift-- he caught on immediately. Scott has been with us now for a little over a year (since Fall 2016) and his exacting nature and constant striving for perfection is most certainly experienced in our flours
In his off time, Scott and his significant other, Angie, and their dog Ella can be found hiking our WNC mountains and when the season is right, they are out there picking wild blueberries.. or muscadines...
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 Morehead's 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. Lydia does the brunt of our rye milling-- whole, coarse, cracked, sifted, recombines (her experiments with 110% rye... In addition to flours and flowers and music, there's her 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 sometimes 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.
Desiree was our stellar intern in the summer of 2016. She was in her final semester at Johnson and Wales, Charlotte campus and completed her studies through an internship with Carolina Ground (brought to us via a suggestion from Chef Peter Rienhart and Chef Harry Peemoller). During her time with us, I had her conduct a study on our pastry flour whereby Desiree made pate brisee and pate sucree with each of our pastry flours from whole wheat crema. She also explored simple vanilla cakes again, with each of our flours.
Desiree holds a BA in History and prior to starting the JWU program she worked at a historic site focusing on traditional baking techniques used before the iron cook stove. I baked various items by using either a hearth or brick oven. Over the years she became very interested in the grains that were used by our ancestors, esp. the ones in North Carolina. We were super luck to have her.
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.
Kim totally ditched us for Riverbend Malt House because she decided she likes beer more than bread. Whatever.. We still love her and love that she's just up the road from us, happily raking malting grain... and she stops by from time to time, often bringing us the malt we mill. And of course we still consider her part of our extended family. Kim is a former Marine, has a degree in Religious Studies, and has bakery experience. She 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 could be found in our mill room, literarily with her nose to the grindstone. But these days she's all malt and beer... In her free time, she' likely 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.