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Emma Zimmerman

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The Miller's Daughter

Emma Zimmerman is co-founder of Hayden Flour Mill

Emma Zimmerman co-founded the Hayden Flour Mills which now grows ancient grains at Sossaman Farms. In an age where everyone seems to be going gluten-free, Emma insists it's the quality of the grain that truly matters.

1. Did you have a background in farming or cooking before you embarked on Hayden Flour Mills with your father?

No, I didn’t and I was working on a Ph.D. in bioethics so it was a big shift for me. I was just starting to get interested in cooking though because I was far away from home and I would ask my mom to send me familiar recipes that I found myself craving.  So I’ve learned a lot more about farming and cooking since starting Hayden Flour Mills. I didn’t even know what a wheat berry was when we started the business and now I can tell also the different kinds of wheat apart. I still have so much to learn though! 

2. What convinced you to embark on this venture?

Probably my Dad's excitement and vision of what Hayden Flour Mills could be. I also wasn't very happy in my Ph.D. program, so it gave me something to do after I dropped out of my program. It ended up becoming so much more than a transitional job. Now it's been ten years of running Hayden Flour Mills. Hard to believe!

3. What brought Hayden Flour Mill from Tempe to the Sossaman Farm in Queen Creek?

It made sense to be on the farm where so much of our wheat was grown. It's such a beautiful and inspiring place to be. When we first started we were in a very small space in downtown Phoenix. Being on the farm has allowed us more room to grow as well. Milling requires some pretty big equipment as well as plenty of room to store the crops. 

4. Do you believe that ancient grains should be in our daily diet and if so what are the benefits?

Yes! It's not very fun to talk about, but we all need more whole grains aka fiber in our diets. Ancient and heritage grains also have more nutrient density because of the way they grow. And whole grains are so important for heart health as well. Honestly, they taste so good that it's not much of a sacrifice. It's more just finding new ways to prepare them that are easy and don't get old. That's why I wrote my cookbook the Miller's Daughter to show ease all the ways to use these grains that weren't just bread. 

5. What inspired you to write the cookbook 'The Miller's Daughter'?

So many people would ask me what to do with these grains we grew and milled. So the cookbook is the answer to that question. It also tells the story of how we started the mill and the ups and downs we've had along the way. It was such a fun project to work on and I felt so fortunate to be able to step back from the business for a while to just focus on writing the recipes for the book. 

  • Emma Zimmerman