Nestled in the center of Queen Creek, Arizona, is Hayden Flour Mills. Their slogan, “Family Owned, Family Grown” has told their story since its beginning.
Hayden Flour Mills wouldn’t exist without the man who started it all: Charles Hayden. His vision for a legendary flour company began in 1868 when he was traveling in Arizona and observed acres of fertile desert land, where wheat crops often thrive. Over a century later, his dream was finally brought to life in Queen Creek. The Hayden Flour Mills that stands in Queen Creek today is on that familiar fertile land, just like he had initially envisioned. The company was officially founded by Jeff and Emma Zimmerman (pictured below), a dynamic father-daughter duo, in recent years.
According to Debbie La Bell, the general manager of Hayden Flour Mills, “Jeff really enjoyed baking bread,” which jump-started his journey into his career. As the years went by, Zimmerman gathered knowledge about different bread-making processes, ultimately trying to figure out how he could bake the best loaf of bread possible. He eventually discovered that stone milling was exactly the solution he was looking for.
In an interview with Green Living, La Bell explained the importance of this age-old process to the way that Hayden Flour Mills functions. “All industrial mills that produce bread are roller mills, not stone mills.” Roller mills tend to crush and mill grain too finely to maintain the benefits found in whole grains. This produces garden-variety white flour, which is not the healthiest option, despite it producing the tastiest baked goods.
Stone mills, on the other hand, are used to “maximize and maintain the integrity of the wheat,” which dynamically enhances the final product in multiple ways. During the process, grain is sheared into flour by stones that rotate, which preserves whole grain status – meaning more health benefits. The mission of Hayden Flour Mills is to retain the nutrients naturally found in ancient and whole grains. While positively affecting the health of consumers, this method also maintains sanctity of the wheat itself through better taste, texture and presentation after baking.
La Bell said, “Additives [in enriched flour] add back what roller milling takes out of wheat chemically. But blending [stone milled flour] with roller mill flour creates the best loaf of bread… You get the best of both worlds.”
While Hayden Flour Mills demonstrates a clear commitment to preserving ancient grains, they’re just as dedicated to sustainability. Deep roots throughout the property don’t disturb topsoil, protecting growing wheat. The Farm is also 100% solar-powered, harnessing the sun’s energy to continue a natural growing process. Their products are minimally processed with no additional additives, and are grown sustainably with no chemical use. Their corn products have also been officially certified non-GMO. This makes Hayden Flour Mills beneficial for both people and the planet.
“We have products for every skill level to try,” La Bell said. The extensive list of house-made products and other goodies available for sale proves her point. Customers can purchase traditional bread flour, specialty and all-purpose flours, crackers made from different varieties of wheat, pancake and polenta mixes, branded merchandise, kitchen accessories and even pastry flours for serious home chefs.
Products are available for purchase online at haydenflourmills.com and at the Mill Shoppe in Queen Creek. Arguably, the most unique products that they have to offer are made from White Sonora: this heritage wheat crop is one of the oldest and first grains found in North America.
“It’s so important for people to vote with their dollars and their wallets,” La Bell said about running a small company. “Businesses like us are dependent on people making these decisions.”
Hayden Flour Mills truly gives visitors a true taste of Arizona heritage through their products, especially through their locally grown and harvested ancient grain varieties. “We want to give [customers] the performance that people expect [from us],” said La Bell.