Mark Friend began baking bread in the early 1980’s. But it wasn’t until he studied the craft from a third-generation Italian baker in Monterey, California, that his passion turned into a career. That’s also when he fell in love with San Francisco sourdough. He was so taken by the complex, yeasty, crusty European style bread that he decided to take some sourdough starter back to his hometown of Kansas City Missouri and open his own artisan bakery, the Farm to Market Bread Company.
“At first we rented a kitchen in the back of a restaurant,” says Friend, “and we didn’t have any money, so we traded bread for rent.”
Those lean beginnings were 20 years ago. Today the starter and the bakery are still going strong.
Priding itself on selling local artisan bread, made fresh every day, the company now does more than $3.5 million in annual sales and churns out more than 10,000 loaves of bread and buns a day. Not bad for a company with humble beginnings.
Now Friend’s son runs the business, which supplies both retailers and restaurants in the surrounding community and plans to expand to a bigger facility. So, what’s their best selling bread? Sourdough of course.
–By Diane Welland
Check out our stories on Ken Wood, a fourth-generation Kansas wheat farmer and Alvin Rustebakke, a wheat farmer on the high plains of Montana.