BusinessOpinionPecan Festival

It’s a Sweet Country for Gluten-Free Eaters

New GF Flour Blend Hits the Market

Sweet Country Farms is one of the newest small businesses to pop up in Eastern Oklahoma County and will be one of the vendors at the 2019 Luther Pecan Festival. Like all small businesses – Sweet Country and its wholesome, propriety blend gluten-free baking mixes – began with a passion and grew into a business through trial and error, setbacks and progress, faith and courage. Audra Starry Lehew is the owner of Sweet Country Farms, her start-up company that specializes in gluten-free flour and baking mixes.
This time a year ago, Sweet Country was about to debut with gluten-free baked goods at the Luther Pecan Festival. To make a long story short, a misunderstanding with the health department forced her to withdraw just day’s before the 2018 festival. We were both devastated. But this is a story of overcoming and believing that sometimes a “No” is really just a “not yet.”
One year later, Audra has launched her GF flour blend and is the baker at Farmstead Cafe in Luther, where she specializes in GF desserts and bread.
Check out her social media post about the experience.
Learn more about Sweet Country in our Q&A. Although we are friends and coworkers  at Farmstead Cafe, Audra and I (dawn) never made the time to sit down together to do a proper interview about her business. We do too much talking at work about orders for lemon squares, her amazing Italian cream cake and how many loaves of GF bread we will need! So we resorted to an email Q&A. It gets it done and lets you get to know her a little more.
LR: What is Sweet Country Farm?
Audra: It is the name my youngest son came up for our little hobby farm and gluten free home bakery.  We moved to a cute little place on 6 1/2 acres a few years ago and started our dream of raising chickens, ducks and goats as well as making gluten-free treats for those who cant eat wheat.
Sweet Country GF flour blend and pancake mixes. Find at Luther Pecan Festival or at Farmstead Cafe.

LR: How did you grow into becoming a GF baker? And have you always been a baker?

I’ve always loved to bake. I used to look at my mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook when I was little. The illustrations and pictures were so pretty and happy.  My mom is an amazing cook and my Grandma Starry made wonderful pies.  About 10 years ago we found out my daughter and I were having sensitivities due to wheat and/or gluten. She was losing her hair and breaking out into red splotches and coughing.  I had Hashimoto’s Disease and brain fog that cleared up as long as I stayed away from gluten. We had just started decorating cakes together as a hobby and were so sad to think we’d have to give it up. After trying several different gluten-free desserts, I realized there were not many good options. That started my journey in creating my own recipes and eventually my own gf flour blend.

LR: How in the world did you ever think of making your own flour blend? It seems very hard to do, and it must’ve taken much research and trial and error.

So much trial and error! I wanted to make something I knew I could count on to work in all kinds of baked goods.  I have thrown away many cookies and brownies in the last 10 years!

Jon and Anabel Lewhew designed the packaging for Sweet Country Farms.

LR: What is something that was challenging to be able to make your own flour?
It was difficult to find the right ingredients in the bulk I needed and shipping that was affordable.
LR: What do you want to share about AUDRA?!
Oh my goodness. I’m a pretty simple lady. I’ve been a stay at home, home school mom for 25 years.  I love my family and friends. I adore my 5 kids and have a strong faith.

Audra and her children.
LR: What are your dreams for Sweet Country?
Household name? Right now I’m just interested in making a living for my youngest son and I and I want people to be able to enjoy baked goods again.  I want to hear, “that’s the best cake I’ve ever had!” without adding… “for gluten free.”

LR: What is your FAVORITE thing to bake? And what is your favorite thing to eat?
I really love to make gluten-free bread.  You just can’t beat the smell of fresh baked bread.

I love, love, love biscuits and gravy and Farmstead Cafe makes a great gluten-free quiche!

LR: You spend a lot of time in the bakery creating and managing the  Farmstead Bakery in Luther that serves both restaurant locations – in Luther and at the Oklahoma History Center … do you enjoy the work?

I do! Since I’ve been there I’ve been able to focus on and practice new recipes, the gf bread being one of them. I haven’t worked outside the home for a long time and it’s been a fun adventure. I’m very thankful.

Find Sweet Country GF flour blend at Farmstead Cafe and at the Luther Pecan Festival, and soon, on shop shelves all across the land!

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