PORTLAND, Maine — Aurora Mills and Farms in Linneus just signed a deal with Boston University to supply the school with Maine oats for the upcoming school year. It’s a big win for The County and the state’s burgeoning food economy.
“It’s exciting that they are looking at local grains,” said Sara Williams, whose father Matthew Williams opened the operation, where grain is milled on the farm, in 2001 to supply bakers with all Maine ingredients.
“This is an exclusively Maine product,” said Williams. “You can’t find a creamery oat than Aroostook County oats. It has a sweet taste.”
In a co-partnership with Grandy Oats in Brownfield, Aurora Mills is selling 16,000 pounds of organic rolled oats to Boston University, which will serve them to students in their campus dining halls.
“There are lots of oats that come in from the Midwest from big commercial farms that are not organic or sustainably grown,” said Williams. “These are organic, New England local foods. The fact that a university is embracing that culture is fantastic.”
Grandy Oats chief executive Aaron Anker made the announcement at last week’s Maine Startup and Create Week when the topic of rural food companies struggling to bring product to market surfaced. Part of Maine’s food strategy is to increase and strengthen such channels.
As more consumers demand natural products, the U.S. organic food sector is forecasted to grow 14 percent by 2018, businesses like Aurora Mills and Farm, focused on scaling up, are well positioned to grow with the industry.
“Contracts like these where you can get scale are guaranteed income which can help us expand,” said Williams, who is looking to buy more land in the fertile County.
“There is a big push for Maine food. That’s a big deal.”