As described in this nice article by Marcelle Richards at Isthmus, Lonesome Stone Milling of Lone Rock, Wisconsin, is focusing on local resources and traditional practices in support of Wisconsin farmers, employees, consumers, and communities. In the face of an industry dominated by a handful of large operators using industrial techniques, Lonesome Stone does things the old-fashioned way.
As Richards details, “The Industrial Revolution ushered in steel roller mills, which process grains quickly at higher temperatures. Some bakers argue they produce an inferior texture and nutritional content compared to the stone-ground method. The steel roller method has become the industry standard for commercially produced flour that undergoes homogenization to make it “foolproof” for the masses, [Lonesome Stone co-owner Gilbert] Williams says, and shelf-stable, which often entails chemical doctoring. According to USDA figures, by 1992, just four multi-unit flour producers had cornered over 70% of the market…. Lonesome Stone Milling goes against the grain in that it [stone] mills organic grains from local farmers, virtually unheard of these days.” (For more, check out the full piece here.)
As further detailed in this article from Lynn Olson at Willy Street Coop, the mill is “working with two organic growers—former dairy farmers who are long-time clients and devotees to the soil mineralization practices taught by Gary [Zimmer of Black Earth Meats, and Lonesome Stone co-owner]…. In fields located high on a ridge near Dodgeville, steady winds aid in keeping the plants dry, and therefore more resistant to common diseases caused from wet conditions. ‘What these guys have is good soil and good crop rotation,’ Gilbert said. ‘[Our] approach is—the soil has to have the right biology and the right nutrients, and that combination makes it so that the microbiology in the soil produces the right balance of nutrients…. You’re not spiking it with nitrogen and causing it to grow real tall and the result is two things: during the growth cycle of the plant it is more resistant to diseases than we’re going to see in this part of the country…. The second factor is the flavor; you get a much better flavor when that plant is finally done and you have the seed from it, because that’s holding a wider rage of nutrients and its got more of the secondary enzymes that it’s able to manufacture.'”
According to the Isthmus article, Lonesome Stone’s “complete line of products is sold at the mill
and at the Hilldale farmers’ market; whole-wheat flours are available in bulk at the Willy Street Co-op.”
UPDATED 3/7/2013: According to Lonesome Stone’s Facebook page, “We have now withdrawn from the Hilldale Farmers Market; you can find our products at Metcalf’s in Hilldale, Mineral Point and Waukesha,” and “Both Willy St. Coop locations carry out products in the bulk section, but not in retail packaging. You will find our pastry flour there.”