Breads of many flavors

Gravel Road Goodies Ronda Turner

Photos by Clarke Davis
Ronda Turner lifts bread from the double oven in the basement of her home, which is now a licensed commercial kitchen. Products from the Gravel Road Goodies bakery are now in retail stores.


by Clarke Davis
Gravel Road Goodies has expanded from the farmers’ markets and bazaars to local grocery outlets with their breads and rolls.
Ronda Turner, who has turned her country home basement into a commercial kitchen, was busy last week filling customer orders for the Thanksgiving holidays.
She produces a product that is fresh with no preservatives, so she can’t make up a batch weeks in advance.
“We just burn the midnight oil or get up early,” she said.
She always says “we,” including her husband, Dennis, who helps out in the kitchen whenever he’s not operating a county road grader, feeding cattle, or farming.
“He makes the frosting for the rolls or stirs the quick bread and does the dishes,” Ronda said. “He always makes Employee of the Month.”
Baking has been a retirement job for Ronda after working 26 years for the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Gravel Road Goodies was launched in July 2013 and has made appearances at farmers’ markets in Perry, Holton, and Topeka the past three years.
“We enjoy the markets because we can visit and get to know the customers,” she said.
The business needed to be licensed to sell to retail stores and while labeling was not required for her size of business, she has gone all the way in.
Ronda’s baked goods have been analyzed by the Kansas State University laboratory and she has professional labeling on her products listing the ingredients along with a bar code. Her kitchen has been inspected and meets all the requirements.
“I think people want to know what is in their food,” she said.
If anyone takes the time to read the label, they might find some words of encouragement from Ronda. One label states, “God’s love does not keep us from trials, but sees us through them.” Another states, “For a new start, ask God for a new heart.”
“Maybe it will brighten someone’s day,” she said.
Gravel Road Goodies LLC joined the state Department of Agriculture’s From the Land of Kansas, which works to promote state businesses and products and provides services to beginners.
“We’ve received helpful assistance from the Washburn Small Business Development Center as well,” Turner said.
Turner tries to hold to the tenet of buying local and promoting Kansas products herself. The flour she uses is purchased from the local grocery store and comes from the Stafford County Flour Mills near Hudson.
“We use locally produced honey and eggs as well,” she said.
Gravel Road Goodies products have been given a prominent location at the end of the bread aisle at Country Harvest Apple Market in Valley Falls. Other current locations are Petro & Pantry in Valley Falls and the F.W. Huston Pharmacy in Oskaloosa.
The main products consist of four breads, white, whole wheat, honey whole wheat oatmeal, and black pepper onion; cinnamon rolls; and quick breads, pumpkin spice, banana pecan, apple sauce, and chocolate, chocolate chip. Quick breads lack yeast and are more cake-like, she explained.
Her custom orders include pies and dinner rolls and she will be making appearances at a bazaar in Nortonville Dec. 5 and the Hometown Christmas events Dec. 12 in Valley Falls.
While she might add a few more locations for her bakery goods, there is a limit to how much more she can do.
“I enjoy baking from 9 to 5, but I want to run it, not have it run me,” she said.
Ronda (nee Griffin) is an Oskaloosa native. She and Dennis have resided on their farm southeast of Valley Falls since 1973.
Their three children and their spouses are Jody and Trey Munson and two children who reside at, Clark, Mo., Andrew and Megan Turner and two children who reside in rural Valley Falls, and Lance and Karie Turner and four children who reside at Oskaloosa.
They were all expected to be at Dennis and Ronda’s for Thanksgiving.
“They are my tasters and testers,” Ronda said.
The Turners have one other project close to their hearts that takes the entire year to get ready for. They head up the free school supply project through their church, the Christian Church, at Valley Falls.
Hundreds of children are sent off to school with new book bags and all their supplies in a one-day event held in Valley Falls.
Their pastor, Mike Kirby, called them recently after finding a store that had book bags on sale for $2 apiece.
“We bought 40 of them,” she said. “Yes, we are always looking for bargains.”

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Posted by on Dec 16 2015. Filed under Featured, The Vindicator. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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