The afternoon is devoted to packaging and labeling — all done by hand. A label must go on the front and back of boxes; Thornett noted with some pride that there's only been one time where a pumpkin spice label has ended up on the front and an original on the back.

Michele's Granola sells wholesale in six states, but the company has shipped directly to 43 of them, which they mark with thumbtacks on a large wall map.

Bill O'Connor has his granola shipped all the way to Texas. He eats it daily and always saves a little bit for Sweetie Pie, the wild deer who comes to his ranch for breakfast. Her favorite foods used to be grapes, raisins and wheat Chex, but when O'Connor introduced the granola into her diet, she went for that first.

"After you taste [Michele's], every other granola I've tasted is like eating mulch," he said. "If you talk to her, tell her I'd probably be around 3 or 4 pounds lighter if I didn't eat her granola, but there's some things you've just got to do."

The Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company, located four doors down from Michele's Granola, sells Thornett's packages of granola and uses some in their oatmeal as well.

"We really like it because it's local," said Mary Romeo, the regional retail director. "Other granolas are good, but theirs is just exceptional."

Thornett is as concerned with the company's waste as its ingredients. One of her delivery trucks runs on recycled vegetable oil from Thornton's Pub in Locust Point, and its facility is 100 percent wind-powered. At least 40 percent of its waste is recyclable, and Thornett longs for a day when someone will invent completely compostable packaging.

Michele's Granola gives back to the community as well as the environment. The company was one of the first merchants to accept the Bnote, a local currency that was designed to strengthen the local economy. Thornett also donates 1 percent of her company's sales revenue to local food and hunger projects through GiveCorps, a local organization that crowdsources fundraising for non-profit organizations and allows donors to choose certain causes as their focus.

Thornett said the business is always evolving; she'd like to convert her second delivery truck from biodiesel to recycled vegetable oil. Also on her list: implementing employee wellness initiatives, such as paid volunteer days where the company closes the kitchen and goes out into the community to lend a hand.

"A lot of times, I wake up and say, 'What am I going to be today? What am I going to be next?'" Thornett said. "Because my role is always changing."

mcfischer@baltsun.com