Jennifer Lapidus Carolina Ground Asheville, North Carolina .

Jennifer Lapidus Carolina Ground Asheville, North Carolina .
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Title : Jennifer Lapidus Carolina Ground Asheville, North Carolina .

PDF summary : Kate Medley: What do y'all do back here at Common Ground? [0:02:13.6]. Jennifer Lapidus: We mill flour. [Laughter] That is the most basic .

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Jennifer Lapidus

Carolina Ground

Asheville, North Carolina

***

Location: Carolina Ground Headquarters— Asheville, North Carolina
Date: October 19, 2018
Interviewer: Kate Medley
Transcriber: Technitype Transcripts
Length: One hour and Nineteen Minutes
Project: Southern Grains























[0:00:21.4]

[0:00:30.4]

[0:00:36.1]

[0:00:40.8]

[0:00:56.4]

Jennifer Lapidus | 1

Kate Medley: I’m going to start by saying this is Kate Medley recording Jennifer

Lapidus on October 19th, 2017, at Carolina Ground world headquarters in Asheville,

North Carolina, and then I’ll get you to carry on from there and introduce yourself.

Jennifer Lapidus: I’m Jennifer Lapidus. I am the founder and general manager of

Carolina Ground and principal.

Kate Medley: Perfect. And for the record, will you tell us your birthday?

Jennifer Lapidus: My birthday is April 8th, 1969.

Kate Medley: Awesome. Introduce us to Carolina Ground. Let’s start there.

Jennifer Lapidus: We’re a flour mill that was set up to close the gap between farmer

and baker in the South. Our idea was to create a market for large-scale organic growers,

to help change the landscape from a feed-grade mentality, when it came to grain-

growing, to food-grade and lessen the food miles for the baker and sort of deepen the

understanding of their most essential ingredient, get it more securely in their hands, and

© Southern Foodways Alliance |







[0:02:10.7]

[0:02:13.6]

Jennifer Lapidus | 2

this relationship between farmer and baker, kind of in reaction to greater relationships

that can control the price, such as the commodity index fund and things that were

exposed to be out of the hands of the baker in 2008 when the price of wheat hit the roof

and bakers sort of realized that this was not nearly as simple as just a bad growing year or

that it was far removed from the farmer and the baker at that point.

Kate Medley: What do y’all do back here at Common Ground?

Jennifer Lapidus: We mill flour. [Laughter] That is the most basic thing that we do.

Then they would reblend to spec. We are single-variety milling on the years that we can,

and the cold-stone milling, all of it to emphasize flavor, nutrients, place. You could take

North Carolina grain and run it through a roller mill and you wouldn’t know if it was

grain from North Carolina or from Timbuktu. The roller milling is a great, efficient way

to produce flour, but in terms of really zeroing the lens in on flavor, nutrients, going back

to cold-stone milling we felt like was the way to do it.



We are tiny compared to most mills in this country. I think the average-sized mill

is 100 and—the numbers boggle me. It’s over 100,000 pounds of grain a day that they

process. We’re processing 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of grain a day, so we are a micro mill.

We’re big enough to be able to work with small- to medium-sized bakeries, and we’re

small enough to cater to the bakeries as well, though, so we’re still sort of finding our

way. We’re five years into production. So that’s what we do on the flour end.

© Southern Foodways Alliance |





Jennifer Lapidus | 3

On the other end of things, we are very interested in enriching the seed

availability for our growers. For example, I wanted a white soft wheat, a pastry wheat

that was a white wheat. We grow a lot of soft wheat in North Carolina, more, I think,

than any other Southern state, so we have infrastructure in place. We have a wheat

program, a good strong wheat program at our small-grains program at our land grant

university, NC State, as well as an organic arm to that. We have wheat breeders, both on

the state level and federal level based out of NC State.



In looking for a white wheat, we traditionally grow red for our soft wheat. I was

told that Dr. Paul Murphy, who’s a small soft-wheat breeder at NC State, had a variety.

In speaking with him, he said there’s no market for it because these are public breeders.

They don’t have a big advertising arm. And I told him we would be a market and I sent

out samples to the River Rat Malt House, which is also an industry here in town working

with Southern growers, and we convinced the foundation to see if this was worth it. They

grew out the seed stock and they allowed us to name the variety, so it’s Carolina White.

It’s a public variety, which means that it’s accessible to anyone, and that means that the

growers have a variety that they can grow that will underscore a place for them, because

the growers—I mean, we work with mostly organic growers, and even the organic

growers, a lot of them might have conventional acreage and organic acreage. The

organic acreage they’re seeing as a niche market, but to give them even more of a niche

market is to say we’re going to create a market for North Carolina or for our Southern

growers.



Our lens is a little larger than North Carolina. We see ourselves as here in the

South, so we’re interested. I’m also part of a nationwide network, so if we need to, we

© Southern Foodways Alliance |

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