Blue Oven Bakery expanding, launching 'farm to circus' concept

Posted at 7:00 AM, Dec 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-21 12:30:29-05

WILLIAMSBURG, OHIO -- For nearly a decade Mark and Sarah Frommeyer have made Blue Oven Bakery bread with locally sourced ingredients on their small family-owned farm in Clermont County.

The Frommeyers’ production process involves growing and milling their own grain and then baking bread in wood-fired blue stone ovens. They sell the bread at Findlay Market and other area farmers markets.

"We've been concentrated on the most return from the ground," Mark Frommeyer said of the bakery, which opened in October 2007.

Thanks to a $150,000 community grant from JPMorgan Chase and the Frommeyers’ purchase of an additional 24 acres of land along state Route 32, Blue Oven is now poised to expand. It will add its bakery operation and mill on the new property, allowing it to grow more grain and bake more bread in 2017.

The expansion also will allow the Frommeyers to show customers firsthand how Blue Oven's farm-to-table operation works.

"What our philosophy is is to put Blue Oven, a small family farm and that whole operation, into mainstream public view," Frommeyer said. "Now we have a headquarters."

Blue Oven also has partnered with Ludlow, Kentucky-based Circus Mojo to put on a "big-top tent" event in late July or early August to showcase the farm. Circus Mojo, which was launched in 2009, teaches children acrobatics and clowning while providing entertainment to various organizations in Greater Cincinnati.

"They’re adding this dynamic element of entertainment," Frommeyer said. "If we can really pull all of this off together, we'll be a one-of-a-kind experience."

In return Blue Oven invested in Circus Mojo offshoot Bircus Brewing Co., which is currently crowdsourcing funds by letting people invest and own equity in the company to complete its brewhouse at 326 Elm St. in Ludlow. The bakery will supply Bircus with grain to make its craft beer and help search for a head brewer.

"It's an everyone-wins situation," said Circus Mojo founder and Bircus manager Paul Miller. "I'm really excited about having Mark's business expertise."

Frommeyer said he approached Miller about Circus Mojo and Bircus because of a common element each business shares: a grass-roots enthusiasm and an entrepreneurial spirit.

"I think the first thing is just what Paul does: He has fun and makes people laugh," Frommeyer said. "That's one of the other reasons I decided to be involved with Bircus. We're actually, literally asking for people to invest in a concept."

Miller agreed that the partnership with the Frommeyers complements all of their businesses.

"These are brands that have done a lot of work in the community," he said. "We both have a great customer base already."

However, Frommeyer acknowledged that the partnership and planned event with Bircus and Circus Mojo is an unconventional way for Blue Oven Bakery to formally kick off its expansion.

"It's a farm-to-circus concept," he said. “I’ve never heard of it in my life.”