FRANKENMUTH, MICHIGAN, U.S. — A company started in 1870 might not be top of mind when thinking of innovative and future-focused. However, with the recent addition of a sustainability director, Star of the West Milling Co. is focused on the future.
“We are celebrating our 150th anniversary, and though we are thankful for those years, our focus is on the next 150,” said Lisa Woodke, who joined Star of the West in June as sustainability director. “We want to do the things that will help us not only maintain, but flourish in the coming years. Sustainability and regenerative agriculture are part of that future plan.”
As sustainability director Woodke will focus on coordinating and enhancing the sustainability efforts between the grower, Star of the West, food companies, and ultimately, the consumer.
“There are so many moving parts: the growers and the practices they use to raise nutritious crops, the millers and their need for quality wheat products, the food companies and their desire to create a safe and delicious product, and the consumer and their desire to know and understand where and how their food was made,” Woodke said. “We can assist in any and all parts of this, along with supplying sustainability metrics necessary for reporting.”
She continued, “Through our staff of local agronomists, we will work closely with our growers to learn what regenerative and sustainable practices they may already be utilizing, and find ways to capture, track and report that information. We also work diligently to find new products or practices that can assist growers in achieving their goals of sustainability. We find that each farm is unique, and each grower has a different view of sustainability. But every farm has the opportunity to reach a level of sustainability recognized by standardized metrics like those used in Field to Market.”
Michael Fassezke, president of milling at Star of the West, said the company recognizes the unique position and opportunity it has to serve its commercial bakery customers, and in turn, the consumer.
“Our company’s diverse agricultural business interests position us perfectly to bridge the information gaps from local growers to consumer and provide the necessary metrics to support sustainable agricultural claims,” he said.
Meanwhile, Keith Martus, vice-president of agronomy at Star of the West, added that the company not only can help companies define and support sustainability initiatives, but it also is able to unite the grower with the food company.
“At Star of the West, in addition to milling and cleaning flour, we also have an Agronomy Division that works directly with the farmer growers,” Martus explained. “With three agronomy locations we can help make the connection from farm to fork real for the food company or consumer.”
Star of the West operates five flour mills in Ligonier, Indiana, U.S.; Frankenmuth and Quincy, Michigan, U.S.; Churchville, New York, U.S.; and Willard, Ohio, U.S. The company has total wheat flour capacity of 32,460 cwts and total mill grain storage capacity of 6.459 million bushels, according to Sosland Publishing Company’s 2019 Grain & Milling Annual.