With a family and farm to take care of and college classwork waiting for her, Rachael Heinrich said waking before dawn to have cinnamon rolls ready for her market stand is sometimes really tough.
But she doesn’t do it for herself.
She does it for her customer who is a nurse, whose 12-hour shifts working with COVID patients doesn’t allow her time to bake.
Or the little boy who saves up his good-behavior money all week to come in for a treat.
Or even the regular who lost her beloved horse and her first thought was to come to the bakery stand.
“My goal is to feed people. It’s my love language,” said Heinrich, who owns Half Pint Farm Bakery in Rochester.
Since November, Heinrich and her husband, Scott Heinrich, have been selling their baked goods every Friday and Saturday from their market cart in the Rochester Fruit Stand parking lot. For Rachael, baking started from a young age. Born in Whidbey Island, she is the oldest of six kids, and her mother loved to bake and include her children in the activity. She fondly remembers receiving her first cookbook at the age of 8.
Rachael and Scott met in high school in California, where Rachael moved as a teenager because of her father’s military career. They will have been married 25 years this year. Scott served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Rachael has worked in several fields and has an associate’s degree in the legal field. She recently began pursuing a degree in agricultural business. The couple owned an event planning business in the early 2000s, and Rachael said while she loved cooking and baking, she never considered it as a career.
“I always said I would not do the food business. I fought it and fought it,” she recalled.
But that attitude began to change when she started baking treats for her husband’s Air Force co-workers. Every delivery got rave reviews and some tasters encouraged Rachael to take orders and sell them. By the time Scott retired four years ago, she said she had decided she might want to take it to the next level.
“He said ‘for 20 years, you’ve been supporting my career. What do you want to do?’ I said ‘I want to farm and bake,’” Rachael recalled, adding a laugh. “I think he’s working harder now than he was before.”
The Heinrichs’ first bakery stand opened in 2016 at their former house on Sargent Road in Rochester. Scott stacked some old pallets and topped them with a recycled piece of tin roofing to create a makeshift building to try out the concept. It immediately took off with the community.
“People would stay there 30, 40, 50 minutes just talking to us, telling us their life stories,” Scott recalled. “So, we knew right then it was a calling for us.”
Two years later, the Heinrichs were devastated when the Sargent Road home with the bakery stand burned down. After the fire, they moved to a home in Rochester’s Independence Valley and attempted to re-open their farm stand, but the drive was too much for many of their regulars. They began looking for alternatives that would allow them to stay in Rochester and offer their baked goods in a location that was closer for customers. When the owners of the Rochester Fruit Stand, just off U.S. Highway 12, offered them space in their parking lot year-round, they said it felt like the right fit.
Fridays and Saturdays, Half Pint Farm Bakery appears in the fruit stand location in a farm stand on wheels made by a builder in Winlock. Regulars know to check the Facebook page for updates on times and the menu and to come early for the best selection since items are first-come, first-served. One of their more popular items are cinnamon rolls, which are on the menu every weekend. The last weekend of every month, look for Chummies, Rachael’s homemade version of the classic Hostess Ding-Dong, featuring homemade marshmallow cream filling and Ghirardelli chocolate coating. Seasonally, they also offered canned peaches, pears and homemade preserves. Besides those regular items, the weekly lineup is ever changing based on what’s available and what inspiration strikes.
“I do five things that speak to me and that keep everything feeling fun,” Rachael explained of the bakery stand’s offerings.
Every bakery ingredient they can raise themselves comes from the Heinrichs’ 40-acre self-sustaining farm. Otherwise, they emphasize purchasing ingredients locally, including duck eggs from a farmer just down the road, in-season fruit from the Rochester Fruit Stand, berries from local growers and cranberries from a farm in Grays Harbor. Half Pint Farm Bakery uses no preservatives and rarely sources any ingredients outside Washington state.
And it’s not just the ingredients’ location but also their own that is important at Half Pint Farm Bakery. The Heinrichs said they have been approached by a handful of local farmers markets to bring their trailer and sell there, but they do not intend to ever leave Rochester. After the fire at the home they now affectionately call “the fire house,” the Heinrichs received a great deal of support from the entire Rochester community, both personally and toward their business.
“After our house fire, we really wouldn’t have been able to do anything without the community,” Scott said. “There was so much help from people. We won’t ever be able to repay them.”
The couple said their bakery stand is one small way they can show their gratitude to their community, as well as perhaps bring a little extra sweetness to the world. They believe in the power of a buttery crust, a dollop of fresh fruit preserves and bit of chocolate to make the world a little better place.
“Especially with everything happening right now, no matter what side you’re on, people can gather here. Sometimes they line up outside in the rain. It brings them together,” Scott said.
Half Pint Farm Bakery
Generally open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, or until sold out, in the parking lot of the Rochester Fruit Stand. Follow them @HalfPintFarmStand on Facebook for more updates.