Slow Money for a mill, a bakery and then – more mills!

Boulted Bread

Editor’s note: This article appears in the Winter 2016/17 issue of the national Slow Money Journal.

When Sam Kirkpatrick and Fulton Forde got together to open their bakery, Boulted Bread, in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, they had an ambitious goal. They wanted to use fresh-milled, locally sourced grain and improve the design of currently available commercial stone mills. Fulton had traveled in Europe and North America learning from bakers who use heirloom grains and researching various age-old mill designs, and creating a plan for a new type of stone mill using locally quarried, natural granite and American-made motors and parts.

The current consumer market, Sam and Fulton believed, was “shifting away from inexpensive conventional practices and beginning to value high quality and process.” Their business would honor this shift toward intentional consumerism and serve the growing number of people interested in sustainably produced food in the greater Triangle area of North Carolina. Their customers would experience “the inherent value, sublime flavors, and simple elegance of bread as craft.”

A Slow Money lender provided $3,000 to cover the construction of a custom stone mill that was more effective, more attractive, and less expensive by thousands of dollars than the few other commercial mills available. Another Slow Money loan for $10,000 covered build-out costs, and Boulted Bread opened for business in August 2014. Sam and Fulton added another partner to the team, Josh Bellamy, who brought along excellent baking experience and a shared philosophy.

Carol Peppe Hewitt and Fulton Forde

The bakery supports numerous local farmers by purchasing heirloom varieties of Southern grain that might be otherwise unavailable or lost, as well as vegetables, eggs, milk, and cheese for their breads and pastries. And they have hundreds of happy consumers. “Bread respects and pays tribute to all the players—farmer, miller, baker, and consumer,” Fulton explains. “Many of our customers are avid home cooks,” Sam told me, “and our moist, naturally leavened, seeded levain is something they can’t find anywhere else.”

Their business has been so successful that they paid off the smaller Slow Money loan two years early. “Our lenders were thrilled for the opportunity to help us get started and proud of us for paying it all back so soon,” said Sam. “We are enormously grateful.”

“My next project,” Fulton shares, “is building stone mills for sale to the public. I first wanted to build a mill when I worked at Farm & Sparrow in Candler, North Carolina. We used a German-made mill that allowed us to use a wide variety of locally sourced grains, but it had many shortcomings. There is an American mill-building company, but their mills also often leave people disappointed and dissatisfied.”

So, he investigated possible design improvements that could make the mill both much more effective and user friendly. He traveled around North America to research mills new and old, and slowly his ideal mill design emerged.

“I built a 26-inch stone mill for a small grain farm in California, another for Boulted Bread, and a third for Farm & Sparrow, to replace the German mill on which I first learned about milling,” Fulton explained. “There is a nascent local-grain movement seeking to extricate grain from the industrial model and in desperate need of high-quality American-made mills. I had orders from four bakers and two mill/grain projects. I began construction on the first three mills ordered. We needed $12,000 to help finance these orders. We planned to pay the money back in 18 months or less.”

Two Slow Money NC lenders who are frequent customers at Boulted Bread made loans of $9,000 and $3,000, and New American Stone Mills is on its way.

Fulton's Stone Mill

Fulton is now collaborating with Andrew Heyn, owner of Elmore Mountain Bread in Vermont, to offer a larger, 40-inch stone mill for use in medium-production bakeries or specialty gristmills.

Farmers are planting more heirloom grain varieties, local milling is growing, and for us eaters, the bread and pastries just keep getting better— for the planet and for us.

Want to learn more about how you can help ‘bring money back down to earth’ ? Join the  Slow Money NC mailing list here. 

An interview with Frank Stasio

IMG_3454A while back I had the good fortune to talk with Frank Stasio, host of the NPR show, The State of Things. Frank is a thoughtful interviewer, and a fan of Slow Money. He was also instrumental in the opening of the Durham Coop in 2015 in Durham, NC.

Here is the link to the interview.

Thank you, Frank – for the interview, and for all you do to make our community a much better place to live.

Ninth Street Bakery Gathering is Big News

We had a full house at Ninth Street Bakery last Wednesday night!  In addition to the twenty or so people from Durham, folks came from Alamance, Orange, Chatham, Wake, Cabarrus, Franklin and Mecklenburg counties! We even pulled in a guest speaker from Washington, DC.  The excitement about Slow Money NC really is growing as Andrea said so well in Mouthful, her News & Observer food blog. The piece is titled “Slow Money Showing Growth” and well worth a read!

“Slow Money NC”, Andrea writes,  “reminds me why I love the Triangle’s vibrant local food scene. The demand for local food is so high that we add farmers markets every year. Farm-to-table restaurants thrive as well as farm-to-table food trucks, and you can sign up for weekly deliveries of local vegetables, meat, cheese, seafood and even soup. People aren’t just supporting the scene with their appetites; they are opening their wallets even further.”

Andrea is such an asset to the local food movement in the Triangle. And she’s right. People are supporting their local food scene.  And it’s making a difference.

Frank Ferrell, owner and baker extraordinaire, talked about the deck he plans to build, his new locally made kombucha, and plans for more events and extended hours.  It sounded like a great idea and he rustled up support from several new Slow Money lenders.

The Durham Herald ran a story about our gathering as well.  Frank isn’t smiling in their picture, but after the meeting he certainly was.

Marc Dreyfors also had an idea to showcase at the same event. He plans to covert a couple of used Duke transit buses to help promote local food. He got a Slow Money loan to purchase one that he plans to use for farm tours, and he may get another to convert into a mobile farmers’ market.

A story about his Greenway Transit business ran in the Durham paper yesterday.

We’re getting attention, we’re making loans almost every week, and we’re happy.  Little by little, one local farm and food business at a time, we digging a deeper, healthier local foodshed.

Highlights from 2011

Our friends from f4dc make a site visit to the Abundance Foundation and join us for Local Friday Lunch at the Plant. Alex, Lyle, Carol, Shawny, and Ed

December 2011
In the fall of 2011, the Fund 4 Democratic Communities took notice of the great work we are doing to finance our foodshed and put up $5000.00 in the form of a match to help fund our efforts to keep building Slow Money NC. To claim the match we needed to raise the same, in donations of no more than $100.00 per donor, before December 31st. Less was fine too, but they set a limit of no more than $100 per person to encourage building a grassroots following. Which we applaud. The response to our request was enormously heartening and validating. We made our match and will be growing Slow Money NC  fast and furious in 2012.  Thanks so much to all of you who helped us reach our goal!

November 2011
Bringing It Home Chatham, LLC 
closed on a 398k loan refinance on November 1st, 2011 for Chatham Marketplace, the coop grocery store in Pittsboro, NC. It was a historic day.

October, 2011
At the 3rd Slow Money National Gathering in San Francisco Carol Peppe Hewitt served on a Break-Out Session panel “Investing in Small Food Enterprises: How-To for Everyone. The following day she was one of the regional leaders on the Main Stage for Town Hall Meeting: Slow Money in Action. Slow Money leaders from the U.S. and Europe share their experiences organizing investment at the local level.

She shared the stories of our lenders and borrowers, the simple way we are working to build resilience in our foodshed, and she inspired folks to do the same in their communities.

The last week of October Carol spoke to Transition Towns groups in Hendersonville and Asheville, and at Green Drinks Asheville. As a result folks made substantial pledges and a loan was made for $10K.

September, 2011
A well-attended Wilmington gathering brought in several loan applications and a strong team of interested folks who are planning another meeting in early 2012.

June, 2011
Outreach to Tarboro resulted in a loan made to a local butcher, then a farm store, and a pending application for a restaurant.

to be continued…..
We will gradually add in the meetings and events we have held since we got started in May, 2010 so you can see our history.  Because this is about making history, shaping the world of money and food in a profound way for the betterment of our soils, our communities and our lives.