Cairnspring Mills is a regenerative flour mill located in Burlington, Washington, that produces fresh, stone-milled flours made from identity-preserved grains. In 2016 a group of Skagit Valley farmers, economic development leaders and bakers, including founder and CEO Kevin Morse, started Cairnspring Mills. Growing up in an Italian-American family, Kevin became convinced of the central role community and authentic food like flour plays in life. His later experience as a farmer and Nature Conservancy executive contributed to his interest in rural economic development and rebuilding food systems. These two combining passions led the team to found Cairnspring Mills as an answer to the following challenges:
- How to ensure local farmers remain financially viable as they face the growing pressures of urbanization and are increasingly forced into the race toward-the-bottom commodity system.
- How to preserve the unique agricultural heritage of the Skagit Valley and build markets for the amazing grain produced in the valley and the Pacific Northwest.
- How to shorten the distance between farmer and customer, not just for items we might see at a farmers market, but even for a bulk crop such as wheat.
- While achieving all of this, how to also build soil health and conserve farmland.
A flour mill was the logical choice, taking advantage of the local tradition to grow wheat in a crop rotation scheme to rebuild soil health and to break disease cycles. In July 2017, the first locally grown grains were milled in Burlington. Cairnspring Mills collaborates with nearby farmers dedicated to sustainable agriculture. Cairnspring Mills flour is available through the Puget Sound Food Hub for wholesale needs as well as part of the GSV Pantry program, at local farmstands and retailers including Boldly Grown Farm, Hedlin’s Family Farm, Schuh Farms, and the Skagit Valley Co-Op as well as on their website, with a local pick up option at the mill on Saturdays from 10am-1pm.
At the beginning of December, Cairnspring Mills released a brand-new Durum flour, that is in limited availability, and available only in 50lb bags. It was grown by two Skagit Valley farms: Boldy Grown Farm and Hedlin’s Family Farm. “The varietal was chosen for its incredible flavor, softer qualities, disease resistance and ability to grow in our maritime region. Right now we’re not set up to mill traditional Durum, because of how hard it is (in fact, the word “durum” means hard). When we discovered tests were being done with a softer Durum varietal, we jumped at the opportunity to grow the grain and stone-mill a limited run.” said Michele (Meech) Crowley, Marketing Manager at Cairnspring Mills.
If you’re interested in keeping up with the latest recipes, guest features, news happening at the mill, and much more, consider signing up for the e-newsletter available on Cairnspring Mill’s website. It’s a fantastic way to stay connected and learn about their mission and what’s new with the mill.
We recently reached out to Michele to ask what the Mill team’s favorite Skagit grown crop might be. Here’s what she said:
“Our favorite crop in the Skagit Valley is, without a doubt, wheat. 70% of the grain that we mill is grown in the Skagit Valley with a haul no longer than 15 miles. Farmers here grow wheat in a crop rotation scheme to rebuild soil health and to break disease cycles.”
As founding members of the Genuine Skagit Valley program, we couldn’t be more proud to partner with Cairnspring Mills and what they stand for. Thank you for participating as our #GSVMemberMonday feature this week!