Shagbark Seed & Mill Success Story

Zoe Graham
October 15, 2013

Take one bite of a crisp corn tortilla chip from Shagbark Seed & Mill and taste the future of the sustainable farming model in the Ohio region. All of Shagbark's tortilla chips and crackers are made from certified organic corn grown in Ohio.Shagbark Seed & Mill, located in Athens, Ohio, grew out of the efforts of the Appalachian Staple Foods Collaborative (ASFC) to develop a staple crop value chain in the region.The company produces whole grains, beans, seed and flour to develop a high-nutrition crop through sustainable farming techniques.The company's owners want to share information and resources about organic farming to build a regional network of food security.

Shagbark Seed & Mill has created a local sustainable farming model, producing nutritious-rich grains and beans while working to eliminate local health, economic and environmental problems. The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs has assisted Shagbark with business and financial planning as well as continuous financial advice. The SBDC provides business consulting in all areas of start-up and operations for businesses in southeast Ohio.

"The tools provided by the SBDC have created a great foundation for us," says Michelle Ajamian co-founder of Shagbark Seed & Mill.

Since 2010, Shagbark has expanded from a few small plot farms to market-size plots. The crops are grown in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, brought to Shagbark for processing, and then sold to consumers all over Ohio and in parts of Indiana, Illinois, and West Virginia. Currently, the chips and crackers are made by a family tortilleria in Toledo.

 “Shagbark Seed and Mill has become a huge asset to our community and region by providing sustainable, locally grown, non-GMO products into the region’s food supply.  The SBDC looks forward to continuing to provide no-cost assistance as the company continues with future expansion efforts,” says Lissa Jollick, Director of the Ohio University SBDC.

The community has had a large role in the business's development by providing community loans to enable Shagbark to keep up with growth and create local, employment opportunities. Members of the community have served on the ASFC advisory board to develop strategies for improving local food security.

"The Athens community's support is outstanding," said Ajamian.

Shagbark gives back to the community by donating to food banks, pantries and the Community Food Initiative, which partners with community members to help individuals and families grow food, develop cooking skills and reduce their health risks by eating whole foods.

Shagbark products can be found in over 70 venues in the Midwest Region.Their products are sold in restaurants, farmers markets, and local grocery stores. Some of the products available are stone-ground spelt flour, heirloom popcorn, black turtle beans, corn tortilla chips and crackers, and 100 percent spelt pasta.

To further develop a network around regional staple foods everywhere, please contact goodfooddirect@gmail.com or check out www.shagbarkmill.com .