At the heart of our business has always been a landrace seed project, a dynamic community of organic farmers, and a craft mill where everything comes full circle. So it is with great excitement That Farm and Sparrow is expanding upon its vision to bring ancient seeds, organic agriculture and craft milling together in collaboration with the most talented chefs, bakers, brewers, and baristas in our region.
Farm and Sparrow began in 2006 as the baking and milling project of David Bauer. A midwestern native, Bauer's foray into baking began with his informal apprenticeship with famed oven mason Alan Scott, who introduced him to the principals of naturally leavened bread made from fresh-milled flour, baked in a wood-fired oven. Over 4 years, he built wood-fired ovens with Scott while developing his baking and culinary skills, eventually travelling to the French Alps to learn from the pioneers of his tradition.
Bauer moved south to Marshall, NC at the age of 26 to begin an experimental bakery in the space belonging to Jen Lapidus of Natural Bridge Bakery. Shortly after arriving, enchanted by the small farms around the mountains, he began working with local growers to figure out which types of heritage wheat, rye, and corn could be grown organically in the southern mountains. He also began growing out small plots of historical grains to begin the process of creating local landraces from ancient varieties.
In 2009, Bauer built out a permanent bakery complete with a new mill and one of the first Turtlerock brick ovens, built by Antoine Guerlain. In this space, he realized the vision of baking bread entirely from locally grown grain, all milled in house, and fermented with native yeast.
In 2013, hoping to expand upon this vision, Bauer collaborated with chef Brendan Reusing to open All Souls Pizza, where a menu was built around his landrace grains and flours. His work with All Souls was featured in the New York Times.
Farm and Sparrow has been featured in publications around the world. Food and Wine included them in a list of the world's best bakeries. Its work paved the way for a new generation of farmers, millers, and bakers. Bauer was nominated for a James Beard award in 2017.
In 2018, Bauer made the decision to close his bakery so that Farm and Sparrow could dedicate itself fully to developing grain terroir through landrace farming, seed restoration and culinary collaboration. The mill is now located in the Appalachian mountains at a 100 year old chapel that Bauer and his family have restored. Farm and Sparrow is currently developing seed and milling grain for 33 varieties of grains and legumes, many of which are new local landraces from ancient seed. At the core of the mill is the belief that to truly respect a grain is to provide an environment where it can continue to evolve and express itself, rather than to preserve as a historical entity. Only through this process can our agricultural and culinary heritage live on.