For 46 years, Fairhaven Mill has brought locally-sourced, organic flour to the people of Skagit Valley and beyond. Dedicated to product quality and a sense of community, CEO Andrew Miller and his team are taking flour power to a whole new level.
Fairhaven Mill originally opened in 1974 as a small cooperative out of Bellingham, run by a group of worker-shareholders until 2007. Under the new ownership of Kevin Christensen and his wife Matsuko, the mill moved to its current space in Burlington. It wasn’t until 2017 that Miller and his team became involved with the mill.
As Christensen neared retirement, Miller helped him prepare to sell. When Christensen suggested Miller be the one to take over, he decided to jump at the opportunity — with his private equity group taking over ownership in 2019.
“I took it back to my partners, we absolutely had to do this,” Miller says. “We need processes that are far more farmer-focused here in Skagit Valley.”
Since this transition, the team has been focused on re-branding Fairhaven Mill, with an emphasis on promoting the mill’s unique history and agricultural contributions.
“If local agriculture is important to you, this is the flour for you,” Miller says. “This is where farmers [have] met the bakers for years.”
Fulfilling Flour Kneads
The small five-person production team creates a big impact. Fairhaven Mill’s flour can be found in 75 different stores nationwide — from the PCC to co-ops, and even some stores on the east coast. You can also purchase hand-sewn 25-pound bags directly from the mill.
The flour, which comes in 15 premium whole-grain organic varieties (and counting), is made from every part of the grain. The result is more fully-activated starches that promote nutrient absorption and create a more malleable dough.
Despite the mill’s long history, new products and partnerships are on the horizon. After requests from the community, the Mill recently released a new organic pizza flour with the help of Bellingham’s Pizza Geometrics.
Miller is also working with Skagit Valley Malting to create and test-bake with smoked and sprouted grains, including a maple-smoked soft white flour perfect for making sweet waffles without any added sugars.
“It’s really fun that in a 46-year-old company, we’re figuring out innovative solutions to modern problems,” Miller says.
A Growing Partnership
The mill continues to flourish, with new flours and mixes going out to stores, with more and more local growers joining the process. According to Miller, the Skagit community plays a large role in this growth, particularly researchers like the Washington State University Bread Lab.
“They [The Bread Lab] have research solutions to bring to bear,” he says. “We’re bringing partners together in a way we haven’t done before… We’re focused on solving problems for our neighbors.”
These new partnerships are precisely part of the new brand Miller and his team hope to promote.
“We’ve gone from a price to a value [perspective], and gone directly to farmers and the researchers,” Miller says. “It’s so important… really using commerce to promote a quality of life in Western Washington that is consistent with our values.”
Fairhaven Mill, 808 N. Hill Blvd., Burlington, fairhavenmill.com