Hayden Flour Mills Is Back In Action
Last August, a large wooden crate arrived at the sandwich shop Pane Bianco. In the crate — bearing an Austrian return address — was a 1600 pound stone mill and sifter: the sole piece of machinery that would revive Tempe’s century and a half-old Hayden Flour Mills brand for which Mill Avenue was named. The mill depended on thousands of bushels of Pima and Maricopa Native American corn and wheat for its success. However, by the 1890’s, within forty years of the first settlements, the local Indian food system collapsed. For a while, Hayden partnered with farmers in Lehi, but eventually the mill sourced grain brought in by rail from out of state. By today’s standards, the mill started out as environmentally “green.” Four French stone bhur mills were powered by water from the free flowing Salt River. (It wasn’t until the 1920’s that the mill converted to electricity.) Over time, the stone mills were replaced with a high-capacity industrial rolling milling process. With consolidation in the milling industry, Hayden Flour Mills ceased operations in 1998 after 125 years of production. Today they grind organic grains on an Austrian stonemill and are even growing most of these grains locally. Of all places, it turns out that Italy owes a bit more than you’d think to Maricopa County and the farmers who produce Arizona-variety golden duram wheat. Seventy percent of what a farm like Ramona Farms grows is shipped directly to Italy, because today the wheat is still praised for its taste and partly for being grown by irrigation, where farmers can control the percent of water that ends up in the final grains, narrowly specified by the Italian buyers (if you’re paying by the pound, water weight makes a difference). Packaged products are currently sold at the front of Pane Bianco, as well as at the Singh Family Market on Saturdays, the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, and FnB’s new Bodega market.