Amateur bread bakers save New York flour business

National News

ANCRAM, NY (CNN) – In the almost 20 years Don Lewis has been milling and selling flour from his upstate New York farm, he has never experienced such a rapid fall and rise of his business like the one caused by the COVID-19.

The growing popularity of amateur bread-baking helped save his business.

“This is some really beautiful Danko rye. This is an organic process and no fungicides here. We have an array of grains we use to make our flour with,” said Don Lewis, Owner, and Miller at Wild Hive Grain Project.

“The impact of coronavirus on our business was really kind of tremendous. The majority of our customers have been restaurants and larger bakeries,” said Lewis.

“That just came to a screeching halt a couple of months ago and we lost probably 75% of our consumer base,” said the owner and miller at Wild Hive Grain Project.

“There is something that happens during terrible times, consumer’s awareness develops tremendously. Their want to eat a more healthy diet and be focused on their food. During this pandemic it is done exactly that,” said Lewis.

“What bread flour do you have?” said a customer at an outdoor market.

“Out of this drive of improving the ingredients and the quality of what they are cooking and baking with, people are making their own bread for the first time,” said the owner and miller at Wild Hive Grain Project.

“With the start of COVID-19, I started exploring making bread, I started doing a no-knead version and then I moved to making my own sourdough starter,” said Theresa Huffman, an amateur baker.

“Right away there was a balance, that is the turning point for how we survived so far during this pandemic. It’s remarkable how many people are using bread flour now. Really the numbers are so big that it is supporting this food system,” said Lewis.

“I find it very therapeutic especially, it kind of gets me out of bed in the morning, it’s something to take care of, something to look after and nurture,” said Huffman.

“There’s even people that are producing breads for their first time that are now giving them away to their friends and family and their neighbors,” said the owner and miller at Wild Hive Grain Project.

“Before I was just happy about the loaf that was coming out of the oven, now I give them away and I see happiness on other people’s faces and that gives me so much happiness,” said Michelangelo Calvi, another amateur baker.


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