Hazel & Rosemary: Farm To Family

October 23rd, 2023
Lauren Leone
Read Time: 5 Minutes
Meet Simply Bread Co customer Kevin Grenz (@MeloBread)

Hazel & Rosemary: Farm To Family

October 23rd, 2023
Lauren Leone
Read Time: 5 Minutes

In the quaint town of Sudbury, located in northern Ontario, savory things are baking. These crusted delights are coming from the bread room of Hazel & Rosemary Micro Bakery and Kitchen. This charming micro bakery is the brainchild of Meredith Teller, an artisan baker with a flair for creativity and a heartfelt mission to honor family legacies.

Meredith’s baking journey evolved over time, starting with her learning family recipes in the kitchen as a child with her grandma Hazel. From there, she loved to experiment and challenge her skills, looking for complex recipes.

“I had no professional culinary training,” said Meredith. “But I’m motivated by the challenge of trying things that seem like they might be really hard,”. With a natural tendency to pair unique flavors together, Meredith began experimenting with local and seasonal flavor combinations. She shifted her focus from desserts to sourdough bread, challenging herself to improve every time.

Before Meredith opened her micro bakery, she worked a full-time job up until the 2020 pandemic. She describes what happened next as a mental health journey “I was able to express creatively and do things that I love by being in the kitchen, creating with food and different ingredients,” she said. “It really served as a mental health piece for me all through 2020,”.

This was the beginning of what would become Hazel & Rosemary Micro Bakery and Kitchen.

The name of her micro bakery? A homage to both of her grandmothers, Rosemary and Hazel.

Meredith’s signature bake, and fastest-selling bread, is her rosemary, sea salt, and garlic loaf, a savory nod to her grandmothers.

“The rosemary is for my grandma Rosemary, and my grandma Hazel absolutely loved garlic,” said Meredith. Meredith admitted to having to tone down the garlic from what her grandma Hazel would have used. However, Rosemary and Hazel aren’t the only family members baked in Meredith’s bread.

“Each one of my loaves has three wheat designs that I hand cut in every loaf before baking,” she said. “Those three symbolize my three children. So that’s my way of incorporating them into the business,”.

Despite the success the micro bakery has seen, Meredith has faced multiple obstacles along the way. An unexpected challenge arose when Meredith’s initial application to join the local farmers market was denied, the reason being there was already another bread baker there.

Another constant challenge is the changing Ontario weather and the impact that has on her sourdough culture. But for someone who gets bored easily, this helps keep Meredith on her toes. “Our sourdough culture is called Corona because I started it at the height of the pandemic,” she said. “But Corona means crown, and it really is the crown of the whole business,”.

“We have four very different seasons here and as the weather shifts, so do our fermentation times,” said Meredith. “It’s very impacted by temperature and weather,”.

On top of all that, Meredith still maintains her full-time job all while doing her full-time micro bakery. Luckily, she’s not doing it alone. “Fortunately my husband is very supportive and has been a pivotal part of the bakery as it expanded,” said Meredith. “He’s fully in it with me, and is actually the one who does a lot of the dough prep and shaping of the loaves,”.

Meredith has been able to increase her micro bakery’s efficiency with a few upgrades. Her first big purchase was her large spiral mixer, a huge upgrade from her single KitchenAid mixer. The next big contributor, the Simply Bread oven. “The Simply Bread oven was a game changer for us in terms of baking loaves more efficiently,” said Meredith, admitting that she is already planning ahead to when she can buy a second one.

Since then, Meredith’s micro bakery has expanded from selling to a single retail partner to being in regular attendance at her local farmers market, and a few local pop-ups. Through social media, Meredith’s customers can stay up-to-date on where they can find Hazel & Rosemary, primarily through farmers' markets, pop-up locations, and retail.

“We have customers that will actively seek us out if we’re not at our usual location,” said Meredith. “They’ll come and find us where we are which is really cool,”. If they can’t make it to the markets, customers can stop by one of Meredith’s retail partners to pick up her delicious loaves. “We’ve been very selective about retail partners that we’ve chosen, who embody similar philosophies and passions that we do like health and wellness and good food,” she said.

Some of Meredith’s favorite stories since she started her micro bakery journey, have been customer interactions. “We have customers who are actually gluten-sensitive and haven’t been able to eat bread for quite a number of years,” said Meredith. With the combined nature of sourdough fermentation and high-quality ingredients that Meredith sources, some of her gluten-sensitive customers have been able to enjoy her loaves. 

“I always like to have a conversation with them and ask them if they’ve heard about sourdough and gluten,” said Meredith. She encourages her gluten-sensitive customers to do their research, and many of them are pleasantly surprised to learn that sourdough works well for them. “It’s meant that some of these customers can now eat our bread, and they’ve been able to enjoy bread for the first time, some of them in over 12 years,” She said. “Some of them are almost on the verge of tears with how happy they are,”.

When it comes to sourcing her ingredients, Meredith is steadfast in buying locally. “All of our loaves are made with organic Ontario flour,” said Meredith. “That’s super important to me knowing where the flour originates from, how it's grown, and how it’s processed,”.

It takes her 3 hours to drive south to the family-owned and operated mill that supplies her with flour. A trek that’s worth every mile to Meredith. She also sources her sea salt from Vancouver Island in British Columbia.“I love partnering with local farmers to see what’s in season,” she said. “It’s really exciting for me because I get to be creative using different flavors as they’re seasonally available,”.

Buying and sourcing local ingredients is a central philosophy for Meredith. In a society where instantaneous gratification exists, Hazel & Rosemary is teaching its customers that good food takes time, and is well worth the wait. “Teaching people that good food is the basis of community and conversation was something my grandma Hazel was really good at,” said Meredith. “She was really good at feeding and loving people through her cooking,”.

As for the future of Hazel & Rosemary, Meredith’s next goal is to put an expansion on her house to help her keep up with her growing micro bakery menu.

“There’s room for expansion on things that are not just bakery but on the kitchen side of things,” said Meredith. “That’s our next goal as we continue to grow is to share some of those family recipes with our customers,”.

Meredith’s working on incorporating more family recipes into different kinds of sourdough, like cookies and Christmas cake. “I have fond memories of baking cookies with my grandma Hazel, so we’ve developed our own sourdough cookie recipe that uses up our sourdough discard,” she said.

On the kitchen side of things, customers can expect new canned and preserved food like dill pickles, and her dad’s family salsa recipe.

And in the more distant future, Meredith’s micro bakery might not stay micro as she weighs the possibility of opening a small bakery or cafe. But for now, Hazel & Rosemary Micro Bakery and Kitchen remains in the small bread room of Meredith’s home, where she can honor her family in every bake.

The influences of grandma Hazel and Rosemary extend far beyond just the name of Meredith’s micro bakery. They are the honoring of flavors in her signature loaf, the legacy of her passion, and the embodiment of her sharing that love of food with others.

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