In 2016 a group of Skagit Valley farmers, economic development leaders and bakers, including our founder and CEO Kevin Morse, started Cairnspring Mills in Burlington, Washington. 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 just a few years, we’ve been thrilled to see how our commitment to a shorter supply chain and taking care of the soil has resulted in a superior product. Alongside our customers, farmers and the baking community, we look forward to rediscovering the unique flavors our varietals can produce.
From the beginning, this venture has been surrounded and supported by a community of leaders, including the Port of Skagit County, Dr. Stephen Jones and the team at The Bread Lab, Tom and Sue Hunton from Camas Country Mill, farmers Dave Hedlin, Tim Wallace and John Roozen, as well as founding board members Steve Brinn, Jerilyn Brusseau and Chris Brookfield—thank you!