The Thin Green Line : The lady behind the Pie
Mission Pie, in San Francisco's Mission district (natch), is one of those amazing green success stories that give you briefly a glimpse at how the world could work. It began as a nonprofit ranch that worked with at-risk youth and evolved into a pie shop and bakery that serves the best pies I have ever had. I'm going to say that again, these are categorically the best pies ever. And they are made with local ingredients and fair market labor.
The whole story is amazing. Please read it.
Mission Pie has invested in a couple pieces of equipment to help Pie Ranch with its emerging wheat production. Pie Ranch grows a heritage wheat; it's called Sonora wheat, and it was grown on the missions. It's a low-protein, really-good-for-pastries, tasty wheat.
The reason Pie Ranch grows it is because it's very meaningful part of the teaching cycle: Here's the wheat; you harvest it... Young people can see the whole cycle of growth, and then the harvest, and then grinding it and making it into flour, and there's always of moment of, "Oh! That's flour."
There's a tiny quarter-acre plot here, and there's a neighbor who just got on fire about Sonora wheat and grew a lot of it and donated it back to Pie Ranch.
Along the way, in that process there were some infrastructure needs, like a combine. It's really hard to find any combines that are scaled to small-scale production any more. Mission Pie fronted the resources to get an old combine out from Michigan—that trip wasn't so green, but it's the best we could do.
We kept in touch with the truck driver while he was driving out. I called him every day and asked him what kind of pie he'd had, and we posted that on the wall at Mission Pie. It was fun.
People aren't really used to thinking about grain in California, but for a bakery, it's pretty fundamental. And it's really meaningful for Mission Pie to be sourcing more grain locally: A quarter of the flour in the piecrust is Sonora wheat that's been grown in this area.