I've never personally wondered how to set up a flour mill but I find it fascinating that some people do, and then go about turning it into a business.
Welcome to the first of many "Local County Stories"! This is the place where I will ask a few specific questions to a local producer/business owner to get to know a little bit more about them and share their responses here.
This first interview is with Tammy Froese who with her husband Dave, set up a flour mill business called "Strathcona Stoneground Organics" on their acreage east of Sherwood Park. It will make you want to know her if you don't already... I've kept it to the point for a reason, I could talk with her all day...
Laura: "What is the nature of your local business and can you tell me a bit of the story about how you got started?"
Tammy: "I have a stone mill. I take locally grown organic grain (wheat) and grind it to make the freshest flour. I also make baking mixes with the flour: cookies, muffins and a pancake mix. It started with a simple idea of wanting to contribute to the local food community. My husband and I threw around some ideas and at first organic chicken food was an idea. Once we priced that out, it seemed nearly impossible. Since we talked to a bunch of farmers in the process, the idea of a mill came up. We visited a local bakery who used the same mill we were looking at, and he gave us a tour. The rest is history- a lot of paperwork goes into opening a food business. It took us a year to build the shop, create labels and recipes and get all the approvals from the county."
Laura: "What have you found to be an unexpected blessing/perk of having this local business?"
Tammy: "The biggest blessing that I’m most grateful for is the people I’ve met. I can’t believe the customers I would’ve never have gotten to know if I didn’t have this business. It’s my absolute favorite part...people stopping by to pick up their order- and a chat."
Laura: "What has been a challenge/learning opportunity as you’ve pursued this business?"
Tammy: "A challenge for me has been the balance of time put into the business vs. time spent with my family. I needed to figure out what the goal was, while raising my family. It took a few years, but I think I've figured it out now."
Laura: "What is one interesting/unique thing you want to let people know about you/your business?"
Tammy: "I’m in the midst of raising and homeschooling 4 children while I run the business. I’ve learnt to balance my time. I’ve made it a habit of getting up at 5:30am and having that time just for me for drinking coffee, reading, exercising and showering. If I have an order (for mixes or flour) that day, I’ll get that done before the kids wake up. And then I can schedule pickup anytime throughout the day. My kids are learning what it takes to run a small business from watching."
Laura: "If you were to be a “tourist in your own backyard” what local activity(ies) would you recommend to others?"
Tammy: "My 2 favorite places that are in ‘my backyard’ are Elk Island National Park and the Strathcona Wilderness Center. The wilderness center is an awesome place to cross country ski. My children have taken lessons and my husband and I get to ski the trails during the lessons. We’ve done some nice walks in the summer and had fire pit lunches there. At Elk Island we’ve ridden bikes, camped, kayaked, canoed, ran a trail race and had a few afternoon bbqs at the day use area. We’ve also seen our share of bison and celebrated Canada Day there. Both locations have hosted our daughters girl guide group for campouts."
Laura: "How can people best find you/contact you to learn more about your business?"
Tammy: "The 2 best ways are Instagram @strathconastonegroundorganics and texting @780-887-1787. I find texting is the number one way orders are placed and pickup is decided."
you can also find out more about all they offer at: