Getting Through these Times TogetherAugust 10, 2021
Stop TippingFebruary 7, 2023
We first introduced our Cyrus Pringle Bread in 2009 to celebrate the Vermont wheat harvest and to support local farmers who were bold enough to be growing grains in this challenging climate. We named it after the renowned Charlotte-born wheat breeder and botanist of the same name.
Specifically, it was the availability of wheat grown by Tom Kenyon at Aurora Farm in Charlotte and by Ben Gleason in Bridport that first made that bread possible. They managed to produce a crop of acceptable quality (after a couple of failures that ended up as animal feed), and we found that this wheat, with the addition of a little commercial yeast, could be baked into a pleasant, somewhat mild, loaf of bread.
The first iteration of our Cyrus Pringle bread.
The reception to this bread, the first commercially available, 100% Vermont-grown loaf in a century, was overwhelmingly positive. Over the next couple of years, Tom Kenyon and Ben Gleason discovered a variety of winter wheat called Redeemer. Not only did Redeemer perform a little better in the field, but it also made much better bread. As the years went by, Ben and Tom and some other Vermont farmers, with the assistance of Heather Darby of UVM Extension and the Northern Grain Growers Association (which she co-founded with Jack Lazor), learned more and more about how to grow great wheat in the Northeast. We have been involved with the NGGA since day one– Randy sits on the Board; he and fellow VT baker Jeffrey Hamelman conduct regular bake tests with grain samples grown by Heather and her team on UVM’s test plots. Year by year, the quality of the wheat steadily improved. Eventually, by the late 2010’s, Tom Kenyon’s wheat-growing business was successful enough that his family was able to retail their own flour under their Nitty Gritty Grains label. By this time we had established a relationship with the folks at Le Moulin des Cèdres in Quebec and all parties agreed it made the most sense for Red Hen to transition Cyrus Pringle to a “bioregional” loaf composed of 70% Quebec-grown flour from Les Cedres and 30% Snake Mountain stone-ground/sifted flour from Ben Gleason. A couple more years passed and Ben, who had been farming wheat in Vermont for more than 40 years finally decided that it was time to hang up his hoe. Fortunately, we were able to source a flour produced by a similar milling method to Ben’s that comes from a farmer-owned mill in the Finger Lakes region of NY that is focused on using organic grains grown in that area.
Cyrus Pringle more recently
At that point, ironically, the loaf that was created to use just Vermont-grown wheat had no Vermont-grown wheat at all. We changed the description to say “celebrating the work of Northeast grain growers,” but really the meaning behind the name had changed too substantially for the significance to resonate. Meanwhile, the quality of the Vermont wheat that we were still sourcing– now from Joe Hescock in Shoreham and Seth Johnson in Glover, had improved to the point where we were able to mill this grain on our own stone mill at the bakery and bake our 100% Whole Wheat using all VT-grown wheat. Around this same time, Todd Hardie began growing rye at Thornhill Farm in Greensboro. We began milling his rye in-house as well and found that we were able to produce two more all-VT breads (our Kingdom Rye and Sprouternickel).
Along the way, we developed a bread that expressed the current local and regional partnerships we have with grain growers. We named that bread Three Millers to recognize the three regional mills (Farmer Ground in NY, Moulin des Cedres in QC, and our own mill at the bakery in VT), each milling grain grown within a few miles of where it was being milled. We ended up with a bread that is basically a naturally- leavened version of the Cyrus Pringle. We will always have a great affection for Cyrus Pringle– both the man and the bread that we created in his honor–but we can’t justify making two varieties that are so nearly identical.
And so, as of June 1st, and with somewhat heavy hearts, we are retiring our Cyrus Pringle bread and replacing it with Three Millers.