by Lisa Cavanaugh
When co-founder Jon Olinto and the rest of the One Mighty Mill team opened for business two years ago they never could have imagined a run on flour. The Lynn, Massachusetts based company commissioned a custom built stone mill, sourced wheat from a small organic farm in Maine and opened a cafe and market to sell their freshly made bagels, tortillas and locally milled baking products.
Then came the coronavirus pandemic. One Mighty Mill closed their cafe and market to the public, and put out a few social media ads indicating that they had flour for sale. “We had mostly been selling our flour to grocery stores and bakeries, but really didn’t have a huge volume going out,” says Olinto. “But once people started baking at home, we were totally blown away by how much of our flour starting flying off the shelves.”
Covid quarantining has launched a new revolution of baking across the nation, and Massachusetts is no different. Olinto feels that baking is a natural response to what is an anxiety inducing time, “It’s a way to feel productive and creative,” he says. “You are making something healthy for you and your family to eat. It is one of the few means of fulfillment right now.
One Mighty Mill’s mission is to move people toward locally grown wheat, locally milled flour, and locally baked goods and to have people pay more attention to where their food comes from. Olinto sees this new baking surge as a great way for people to feel more connected to the ingredients they use. “People who are using our flour now have the time and attention to think more carefully about where food comes from and how it is produced.”
After working through shelf-life issues and the economics of packaging, the company began shipping their whole wheat flours and pancake mix (as well as their bagels, pretzels and tortillas) eight weeks ago, and they reach states throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Olinto says the company will continue selling their flour online for as long as customers need it. “This has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone, but one of the bright spots is how people’s relationship to food is changing. Our customers say they feel now that they are part of something bigger.”
“You can bake something nourishing and someone loves it,” he adds. “ As humans, we need those kind of emotions more than ever.”