Dawn Lemon sets a small flour mill, which resembles a food processor but is taller, atop a counter and pours in a cupful of organic, hard red winter wheat. With an electromechanical whir, the machine in a couple of minutes yields a cup and a half of flour.
She takes the extra step so that Lemondrop Bakery can offer products made with not just whole wheat flour, but fresh, organic whole wheat flour.
"It starts to oxidize as soon as you mill it," Lemon said. "It has oil in it, vitamin E in it, and that starts to go rancid, so you want to use it when it's freshest and most nutritious."
Besides her regular whole wheat bread, she uses the same fresh flour in making cinnamon raisin bread, a breakfast bread that includes organic sunflower seeds as well as raisins, and a sandwich bread with organic flax seed.
All the breads are made with the freshly ground whole wheat flour, as are the muffins, the brownies, and the oatmeal raisin cookies. Besides the signature Morning Glory muffin with carrot, Lemon bakes a mocha cappuccino muffin, a cranberry, orange and walnut muffin, and others.
Lemon also makes pumpkin butter and other dessert items for folks who aren't as into the whole wheat and organic themes. She offers a rich cheesecake and has recently introduced peanut butter rice-cereal treats.
The Lemondrop Bakery, at 4436 Stafford Rd., Claxton, also serves freshly roasted organic coffee. The bakery is open Thursdays and Fridays only, 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
Lemon and her husband, Greg, don't grow the wheat that is used at the bakery. But they do have a small organic farm, growing fruit, berries, and vegetables so far on less than one acre and working to build the soil fertility.
It's an enterprise with a basis in faith. Their website, www.lemondroporganicfarms.com, quotes John 6:35, the verse about Jesus being the bread of life. Dawn Lemon speaks of the organic farming and gardening as a "heart's desire" put there by God.
"It's not healthful for us to be putting chemicals into our body - synthetic chemicals, preservatives, hormones, things that God didn't make for us," she said. "That's why I feel we need to do the organic farming."
Her breads, she notes, contain only a few ingredients, and no preservatives or synthetic chemicals.
Lemon was wearing a chef's hat and jacket with "Chef Dawn" stitched on it. She completed the two-year program in Culinary Arts at Ogeechee Technical College in 2011 and interned at Elements Bistro & Grill in Lyons with Chef John Mark Lane.
As a little girl in Missouri, Lemon had wanted a little stove so much one year that she pictured it beneath the Christmas tree. After it wasn't there on Christmas morning, her father could sense her disappointment, and she remembers he later bought her a little stove and set in on a counter. It had a metal plate on top heated by a light bulb, and when she tried to fry potatoes on it, the results were disastrous, she recalls.
Now her equipment and preparation have greatly improved. The small bakery, in a separate building near the Lemons' home, is professionally equipped, with a built-in double oven, rollout bread racks and large sinks shining with stainless.
A sign reminding visitors not to touch the food preparation table reflects a trained chef's concern with cleanliness. When she scrapes the remaining flour from the counter, she saves it, along with egg shells, pecan hulls and unbleached paper coffee filters, for composting.
Chickens wander inside a fenced area near the bakery's parking area. Lemon uses free-range eggs in her baked goods, and gets more from a friend nearby to supplement those laid by the family hens.
Besides the baked goods, Lemon makes a whole grain, organic granola she said is a big seller for her. Made with oats that are freshly rolled at the bakery, it is gluten-free.
Whole wheat bread does have natural gluten in it. But Lemon has had many requests for gluten-free bread and recently ordered ingredients to begin making it. She notes that the breads she already makes are soy-free and, with the exception of the sandwich bread, flax-free. Cancer survivors considered "receptor positive" are instructed to avoid soy and flax, and Lemon observes that much of the bread in supermarkets contains soy.
She also makes gift baskets for various occasions, from game days to Mother's and Father's Days, Christmas and birthdays. A "Thinking of You" basket containing items such as bread, honey and organic coffee could be for someone having a bad day.
"I know it would brighten my day," Lemon said.
Traveling about 15 miles south from downtown Statesboro on U.S. Highway 301, turn right onto Georgia Highway 169. After about three miles turn right onto Stafford Road, and the bakery is about a half mile further. Breakfast items and some bread will be available if you drop by, but call ahead to order.