May 6, 2024

Seed Award Spotlight: Madre Masa & Tortillas

In our “Seed Award Spotlight” series, we asked our inaugural Seed Award winners about their…


A person with short, gray hair and a big smile is wearing a black turtleneck sweater. They are in an indoor setting with a neutral background, and a decorative vase with dried flowers can be seen in the blurred background.

Ostosh and Renata Fernández Domínguez of Madre Masa & Tortillas In our “Seed Award Spotlight” series, we asked our inaugural Seed Award winners about their experience as a food or farm entrepreneur, including the passion behind their business, and what motivates them to do the work they do every day. In early 2024, 11 Seed Award winners were chosen to receive seed funding totaling almost $150,000, based on their businesses’ commitment to promoting racial equity, enhancing healthy food access, fostering job creation, and embracing resilient climate practices. 

Among the recipients is Madre Masa & Tortillas, Michigan’s first organic heirloom nixtamal tortillería, founded in 2022 by Ostosh and Renata Fernández Domínguez. Every Friday, their home kitchen becomes a traditional tortillería, creating fresh tortillas and masa using organic, locally sourced corn through the ancient process of nixtamalization. With the award funding, they plan to expand their equipment to bring more of their cherished tortillas to homes throughout the state. 

Keep reading to learn more about Madre Masa & Tortillas and the ancient food process that keeps new and repeat customers sliding in their DM. 

What does being selected as a Seed Award winner mean to you personally, and how does it reflect on the journey of your business so far? 

As a women, immigrant, and LGBTQ owned business, being a Seed Award winner is of course a huge win for us personally, but also signifies a huge win for all the communities we represent and serve. We believe in a Michigan that has access to healthy, local food that is better for our bodies and the land. 

Madre Masa & Tortillas honors both Michigan heirloom and organic corn with the Mexican traditional process of nixtamalization and stone-milling. We have been extremely grateful and energized by the community support and enthusiasm we’ve received for our small community molino (mill) in Grand Rapids. It brings us endless joy to see Michiganders excited about the beautiful colorful maize being grown here in Michigan and all the additional health benefits and flavors that nixtamalized corn brings to fresh tortillas. 

In what ways will the Seed Award funding support your immediate and long-term business goals? 

We are in the process of scaling our business and are currently scoping out a production and retail space in the Grand Rapids community. This funding will allow us to invest in a higher capacity stone mill and tortilla sheeter/ oven to greatly increase production. Ultimately, this will allow us to expand and grow our market for our fresh masa and tortilla products so you’ll be able to find us in more retail spaces, restaurants, and farmer’s markets around Michigan. 

Can you share your vision for the positive changes this award will enable you to make in your business and the broader community? 

Having this funding will help us to create more access to better tasting and more nutrient dense tortilla products for our local community and for the growing Latinx population in Michigan. For us, our business is not just about sharing better tortillas and tortilla products with the community, but also supporting our local farms and agricultural biodiversity, community health, and cultural reconnection. Nearly all of the tortilla products on the market are made with highly processed commercial corn flour that has been stripped of essential nutrients to become shelf stable, rendering them tasteless and nutritionless. Nixtamal tortillas are a fresh product that are naturally up to 5x times more nutritious (depending on the corn variety) and contain fiber, proteins, niacin, and calcium that are not present in shelf stable options. We have big plans to engage the community with educational classes and will continue to work with farmers and other advocates to support the production of heirloom corn in Michigan. 

What led you to start your business? What motivates you to do what you do? 

We started making nixtamal masa and tortillas for ourselves, because it’s what we needed to make Michigan feel like home, and felt essential to our well-being and to properly honor our favorite Mexican recipes. We soon realized that many others were either missing traditional masa and tortillas or just desperate for a good tortilla, and the joy of sharing was intoxicating. The strong tradition and culture behind the type of tortilla we make (nixtamal) is what motivates us. Nixtamalization is both millenary tradition and ancestral knowledge. It’s important to us that people have access now and that the next generation is properly trained and knowledgeable about how it’s made and why it’s important.

Want to try fresh tortillas from Madre Masa & Tortillas? Be sure to follow them on Instagram to see how you can place a pick-up order. 

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