Flour Power at Greenfield Mills
There have been a few changes at Greenfield Mills over the past 100 years, but for the most part, Indiana’s oldest commercial water-powered flour mill has stayed true to its beginnings.
“Our company is still very focused on service, which you don’t see too much anymore,” says owner Dave Rinkel. “When you call us, you’re talking directly to the owner. That’s almost unheard of. And if a customer has a problem with the product, we replace it on the spot with no questions asked, because that’s our name on the package.”
Dave is part of the fourth generation of Rinkels who own and manage the mill. His son represents the fifth generation. The pair oversees all production and deliveries, while Dave’s daughter, who is in college, helps out with computer issues. Greenfield Mills runs with only four full-time employees – all family – and one part-time employee.
A Rich History
In 1904, Dave’s great-grandfather Henry Rinkel bought the mill, which at the time was being used as a dance hall because the water source behind the building’s old dam had dried up. It took two years to fix it up. After reconstruction, Henry Rinkel began producing “New Rinkel” flour in 1906. Though the spelling of the name has changed to “New Wrinkle,” the family-owned mill still produces the same old-fashioned, high-quality flour today, more than a century later.
“We make great pastry flour for pie crusts,” Rinkel says. “The New Wrinkle Pastry Flour is probably our most popular product. The second most popular is our pancake mix.”
The mill produces 11 different flavors of pancake mix, including buckwheat and buttermilk mix, made from regular flour, and blueberry, blackberry, buttermilk, cherry, chocolate chip, pumpkin and spice, raspberry, whole wheat and vanilla mix, all made from its whole-wheat flour. It also makes several types of regular and whole-wheat flour for baking. The Rinkels taste-test every batch to make sure it meets their well-known high standards.
New Wrinkle pancake mix has made a mark in the community as well, being served at local fundraisers and events for years.
“My parents and grandparents didn’t have a lot of money for advertising,” Rinkel says. “So they would make pancakes at churches and rallies, and advertise their products that way.”
Rinkel says Greenfield Mills sources its wheat from local farmers as much as they can. They bring in the wheat, clean it, put it through storage bins, then run it through a conventional roller mill or stone mill to grind it into flour. The family sifts, packages and delivers it to grocery stores or straight to customers. At grocery stores, they even go the extra step and unload it onto shelves.
They also offer gift boxes and baskets containing several varieties of their flours, plus other delicious local goodies including Amish country popcorn, cornmeal and batter mixes, whipped honey and handmade Amish candies.
More than just producing quality products, Greenfield Mills is unique in that it is a water-powered mill. This means the mill generates its own electricity by using a water wheel or turbine to drive the mechanical process of flour-making. Not only does this work very well for producing the Rinkel’s product, but it’s extremely energy efficient.
“The rest of the community benefits because they can use the electricity from the mill, and that is few and far between anymore,” Rinkel says. Greenfield Mills is one of Indiana’s smallest electric utility companies, serving two mills and 11 homes.
From 4-H clubs to high school classes to the general public, Rinkel says Greenfield Mills is happy to open its doors and teach about their hard work.
“We have schools that use our products for fundraisers. One class always sells it for an economics project,” he says. “It’s a very educational thing, as there aren’t many places where you can see a true farm-to-table product anymore.”
If You Go …
Greenfield Mills is located in Howe, but if you visit, the mill is actually a little northeast of Howe, close to the Michigan line. It’s open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 1 to 5 p.m. For tours, please call ahead at (260) 367-2394 to make an appointment. You can learn more about Greenfield Mills and its products at newrinkelflour.com.
** Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, since this story was printed, Greenfield Mills has closed.**