From Wheat to High-End Flour Mill
|Dennis Kubischta began stone-grinding his wheat using a small flour mill on his Hope, N.D., farm. Now he’s building the Summers Harvest Flour Mill capable of processing up to 12,500 bushels a week. |
Photo by Sheldon Green.
N. Dakota Farmer Adds Value to Wheat, Jumpstarts Local Economy
With ingenuity, tenacity, and help from SARE farmer/rancher grants, Dennis Kubischta of Hope, N.D., converted his grain farm into a high-quality flour-producing enterprise that supplies an area bakery and national dough distributor. Now, Kubischta’s success will leave a substantial mark on his North Dakota community with the opening of a new $2 million flour milling plant in mid-2005.
Kubischta’s two grants helped him create a marketing, engineering, and business plan for a much larger milling operation for high-end baking flour. “In rural areas, you can find enterprise money for projects, but how do investors know if they are good projects unless the homework has been done?” said Kubischta, who put a priority on developing a credible business plan. The spanking new Summers Harvest Flour Mill, owned by a cooperative of five farmers, will be able to mill up to 12,500 bushels of wheat per week. Area farmers will supply the plant, and the mill will employ at least 10 people at competitive wages.
Ten years ago, Kubischta eyed his balance sheet and sought an alternative to renting land to produce more wheat for the commodity market. Kubischta started making stone-ground flour and found a Finley, N.D., bakery that liked the special product and was willing to take a chance on a small supplier. During grinding, stone milling creates heat that essentially cooks the flour, imparting a unique flavor.
He continued to expand, buying more milling equipment until he had the capacity to mill 3,000 pounds per hour. When he learned that North Dakota State University was looking to sell a commercial-grade mill that makes all grades and types of flour, Kubischta bought a tract in Colgate, N.D., and gathered support from area farmers. He will be the general manager, with overall operations governed by the five farmer-owners.
Kubischta is thrilled to create job opportunities when so many residents have left their farms and the area. “As a direct result of SARE believing in us, we now have certified organic wheat in the bins and new markets for our products,” Kubischta said. Milling bakery-quality flour has “made a major difference in our ability to remain on the farm and stay in this area, which is experiencing so much out-migration.”
[For more information, go to www.sare.org/projects and search for FNC99-259 and FNC01-345.]