Tall Grass Prairie Bread Company is well-known in and around Winnipeg for its gooey cinnamon buns and its organic local baking and preserves, located at the Forks and in the Wolseley neighbourhood. Tabitha Langel is one of the trailblazers behind the iconic company, which started three decades ago. Langel, a farm-born-and-raised former social worker, her husband Paul and Lyle Barkman, a Tall Grass co-founder are long-time members of the Grain of Wheat Church community in Wolseley. In the late 1980s, the church was studying food and land issues.
“Back then, farmers were still getting the same price for a bushel of wheat that they got a hundred years ago,” Langel told the Canadian Mennonite magazine. “A record number of small farms were being sold and agri-business was taking off.”
A small bread co-op grew out of the church’s concerns and its desire for a more communal life in its neighbourhood, using the local church’s kitchen. They baked bread every Saturday morning. Eventually, the group of bakers decided to invest in a mill and purchase grain directly from local organic farmers. The demand for bread became overwhelming which resulted in the business being formed with support from farmers and the church community. The original owners group consisted of five members, four from Grain of Wheat and one from St. Ignatius Church.
When the bank would not give Langel and her partners a loan to purchase a bakery, many in the bread co-op lent them money and they took out personal loans. They also had to keep their part-time jobs, but eventually, it became successful. Now, Tall Grass Prairie – the dream of Langel and her four original partners employs nearly 60 people. Langel and her partners continue to foster local trade, links with farmers and job creation.
Winnipeg Free Press