Following its recent purchase by Heirloom Brands, Kansas-based flour producer Farmer Direct Foods, Inc.—which has rebranded to Farmer Direct Foods, LLC (FDF)—is raising the awareness of regenerative farming in the state of Kansas.
FDF unveiled a new brand identity, including new branded product packaging, reflecting the company’s proprietary grower network and regenerative farming practices. The new brand identity represents a transformation from a manufacturing business to a consumer-facing brand of premium, artisan-quality products that are good for consumers, good for farmers, and good for the earth.
FDF was originally founded in 2003 as a co-op of wheat farmers who formed the American White Wheat Producers Association in 1988. Comprised of second and third-generation farmers, the company has historically been a producer of organic and traditional 100% whole white wheat, whole red wheat flour, and patent flour for customers such as King Arthur Baking Company, Tortilla King, and Tardella Foods. The company is rapidly innovating and expanding its offering to include rye wheat flour, heirloom (Turkey Red) whole wheat flour, and buckwheat flour.
FDF’s commitment to transparency and traceability has been a major differentiator for the company as consumer calls for food supply chain transparency have grown in recent years. The company’s commitment to sustainability leads to socially responsible practices like Identity Assured, a proprietary process that tracks and monitors wheat from the certified seed varieties through every step of the farming and stone ground milling process, As a result, customers have the added peace of mind of knowing exactly where FDF’s products come from, and that they were produced with integrity and sustainability in mind.
Working closely with wheat research scientists from Kansas State University, Farmer Direct’s approach relies on the heritage and expertise of its multi-generational grower network to preserve the land for future generations through sustainable agricultural practices. Two foundational techniques that Farmer Direct requires are drying farming and low/no tiling practices. Dry farming minimizes the use of irrigation and outside water sources from the process of wheat production, while low/no tilling prevents carbon release and captures carbon in the soil.
“We rotate our crops with little to no tilling—overall reducing erosion—and plant-cover crops between harvests, which preserves organics in the soil,” said Doug Nelson, who is both a grower in the FDF network and investor in Heirloom Brands. “These operations result in less runoff and chemicals in the water supply, creating a habitat for pollinators, birds, deer, and other wildlife.” FDF pays a premium to farmers, like Nelson, who commit to these environmentally conscious guidelines, additionally sharing a portion of profits to encourage the future of mindful farming.
All in all, FDF estimates that its farming methods save around 30 to 40 million gallons of water per year (more than 200 gallons an acre per crop year). This effort supports its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) commitment, which includes FDF’s membership in 1% for the Planet.
FDF’s focus on soil health and water conservation aligns with King Arthur Baking Company’s core value, as a Certified B Corp, to be a force for good on this planet. The country’s premier baking resource provides high-quality baking products that meet rigorous standards and a “never bleached” guarantee – priorities amplified by FDF’s minimally processed, stone-ground whole wheat products.
“King Arthur Baking Company has been a proud partner of Farmer Direct Foods for over 20 years,” said Suzanne McDowell, vice president of corporate social responsibility and sustainability at King Arthur Baking Company. “Farmer Direct’s commitment to raise awareness of and expand regenerative farming practices in Kansas represents a critical step towards a more resilient and ecologically sound future. At King Arthur, we intend to lead in regenerative agriculture with the goal of having 100% of our flour milled from regeneratively grown wheat. The shared commitment of partners like Farmer Direct is essential in achieving our goals.”
“For more than a century, Kansas has been considered the ‘Breadbasket of the World,’” said Heirloom Brands’ Chairman & CEO Tim Webster. “With the current rates of climate change we have an ethical responsibility to produce wheat and flour products as sustainably and nutritionally as we can, which not only benefits the earth, but also our growers’ livelihoods and the overall health of consumers.”
Whole wheat delivers important nutrients and fiber to any diet. Eating whole grains can lower the risk of common health concerns like heart disease, stroke, and obesity. Through regenerative farming, FDF produces whole-grain flours that are ground, milled, and sold to create wholesome baked goods, pastas, cereals, and snacks. The company is set to expand its offerings this fall to artisan bakeries and regional grocers so more consumers can experience the many benefits of ethical and sustainable agricultural practices.