For so many around in the Cincinnati area, the discovery of Blue Oven Bread has provided a window into a world of new possibilities for how incredibly delicious bread can be. It is a discovery that keeps people coming back to the farmers markets week after week to the benefit of all of the vendors at those markets. Particularly in the wean winter months, the need to come pick up one’s favorite loaf can lead to discoveries of the offerings of other year-round producers, lifting up fellow farmers and food artisans alike.
Yes, that bread is delicious, but it is the processes that go into making Blue Oven Bread so good is where Mark and Sara Frommeyer’s labor of love really shines. The bread and pastries are produced in wood-fired ovens on their farm in Williamsburg, Ohio. They grow as much of their own wheat as they can using organic methods on their 10 tillable acres. This is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of their needs, so they work with farmers in the surrounding areas to grow a greater percentage of their wheat. The remaining wheat is sourced from carefully vetted commercial mills: Heartland Mill, Central Milling, and King Arthur. 100% of the whole grains used are organic and heirloom, milled fresh on the farm, no matter where they are sourced from. In addition to the wheat and grain, the Frommeyers raise the eggs, vegetables, and herbs that are used in their pastries. Fruits are sourced from surrounding farms, cheese from a local dairy.
On the farm, Blue Oven works on creating cradle-to-cradle feedback loops, doing their best to keep these loops closed and on-farm. For example, they use dead and dying trees from the woods on their property to fuel the ovens. By burning this wood at temperatures close to 1000 degrees, near complete combustion is created, reducing the amount of carbon released to the atmosphere. This is much less harmful than the alternative ovens typically run off of fossil fuels. In addition, the ash and coals remaining are spread into the soils as fertilizer and used as a natural antibiotic for parasite reduction in their animals.
To produce the bread, the Frommeyers employ a team, truly a family, of fifteen individuals. These folks work hard together to uphold the high standards of Blue Oven, sharing in the work of the farm and the bakery, and in the rewards of both. In addition to monetary compensation, employees are encouraged to take home fresh bread, flour, and farmed crops, and Sara Frommeyer cooks meals for the entire crew each and every day.
With demand so high for their products, the team works hard to “grow slow,” and make the right choices for growth so that they can continue to love doing work that reflects and raises up the principles that they hold dear, the same principles that are behind Slow Food itself. They truly set the bar for what good, clean, and fair can mean and we hope that their success inspires more great farmers and food artisans in our region.