Monday, 24 August 2009
We hope to see you there soon.
What with The Real Baker-e, Twitter, Facebook and Flickr, the Real Bread Campaign was collecting too many virtual homes. If you want to join the conversation, please come and find us in one of them.
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Though from the south of Staffordshire, I take no shame from using any and every opportunity of promoting the oatcake indigenous to the north of my home county. Even though its damp flannel texture may look less than appealing on the page, on the plate and in the mouth, the Staffie oatcake beats pretty much any other flatbread going. A south Indian parotta could give it a pretty good run for its money but it’d be a close thing.
And so for me began the day’s farinaceous fun with a multicultural take on huevos rancheros. One of my favourite breakfasts – which sounds much better in its original tongue than translated as ranch-style eggs – this Mexican dish is usually based on a pile of cornmeal flatbreads. As my other half isn’t too keen on these and as I was up early, I decided to knock up a batch of the Tunstall tortillas, too.
Going for half oats, half wheat flour, made up with fifty-fifty milk and water, as this was a spur of the moment culinary frenzy, I leavened the batter with instant yeast, rather than sourdough starter. Smothered in the tomato, onion and chilli sauce I rustled up while the batter was proving and topped with a poached egg, they brought about a tinge of jealousy as I tucked into the more traditional version of the dish on my own plate.
The next leg of the Lammas tour was a disappointment – a bakery that said they would bake a special loaf, hadn’t. Happily, over in Walthamstow, volunteers and friends of the Hornbeam Centre (pictured above) had entered into the spirit of things fully. One of the team had baked a loaf depicting a wheatsheaf and several regular customers of Hornbeam’s community café and local food co-operative market stall had brought along home-baked loaves to share with others.
Onward to Dalston, where the collective EXYZT has built a working windmill and artist Agnes Denes’ wheatfield is being restaged as part of Barbican Art Gallery’s Radical Nature exhibition. Although I’d found someone from the Growing Kitchen project in Shoreditch to teach breadmaking there the previous day for Local Loaves for Lammas, somehow I’d missed that The Dalston Mill also was hosting a bready event on the day that I was visiting.
The brainchild of Alex Bettler, Full Dinner Design invited visitors to a bread making session using flour from the mill itself. The latest in Alex’s ongoing, pain-European discussions around bread, the idea was to create edible crockery and cutlery for a shared evening feast. It was a really enjoyable afternoon, with children and adults, several of whom had just been drawn in from the street by the intrigue of a windmill on their doorstep, rolling up their sleeves to shape plates, beakers and spoons. These were then baked, alongside some more ornamental creations from the kids, in the mill’s two wood-fired ovens.
The afternoon’s drizzle turning to torrential rain only served to push closer our group that had been drawn together by shared activity. Sitting side by side around the long communal table, eating from our handmade trenchers and drinking beer brewed by another of the impromptu bakers was the perfect way to end Lammas.
Do you have any pictures from Lammas this year? If so, please feel free to share them with The Real Bread Campaign group on Flickr. If you have any stories from your event, please drop me a line.
Local Loaves for Lammas from the Real Bread Campaign will rise again on the weekend of 31st July - 1st August 2009
Friday, 31 July 2009
This week, we have a guest blog from David Rose, Sustain's farm co-ordinator. In this first entry (hopefully, we'll persuade him to find time in his hectic schedule to bring us updates), he tells us of how things are going on his mission to bake a Local Loaf for Lammas with specially bred wheat from his own farm.
It’ll soon be the 1st of August, Lammas day - the highlight of summer, it’s a day we have planned for all year and we were so excited the baking of our first Loaf for Lammas.
However, here I sit, looking out on a sodden field of wet wheat, my plans in a puddle of clay brown rain water.
Never mind, there’s always tomorrow. You cannot be a farmer if you’re not prepared to beat the weather; my loaf will just have to wait a little longer.
My name David Rose and I’m 50 this year. I started working at Sustain six months ago and it’s changed my life. They say life begins at forty - well for me it’s come a little later.
As an arable farmer growing mainly wheat and oilseed rape, I assumed supplying direct to the public was not for me. Working for an organisation that brings together different groups who care about food, the environment and the future sustainability of food production, has shown me ways to reconnect to the consumer.
Martin runs Wakelyn's Agro-Forestry, a pioneering research farm in Suffolk, and leads Defra-funded studies into plant breeding for a post-petroleum world at The Organic Research Centre at Elm Farm in Berkshire. Elm Farm’s work is to develop and support sustainable land-use, agriculture and food systems, primarily within local economies, which build on organic principles to ensure the health and well-being of soil, plants, animals, men, women and their environment.
Martin told me about a project that was set up to research wheat production that allows farmers to be able to develop their own local varieties. This sounded fantastic and we were asked to become part of the HGCA trial - we were the only non organic farm to join the research - to develop these farm-specific varieties.
Basically, twelve milling and nine feed wheat varieties were cross-bred to produce the a high yielding (Y) population and a high protein/quality (Q) population. All parents were crossed to produce the Yield-Quality (YQ) Population. The populations these crossings produced are genetically diverse, as is indicated by the different heights of the wheat in the picture above - modern monocultural planting leads to more or less uniform straw length. From the successive saving and re-sowing of seed under particular local selective pressures, the idea being that the resulting crop may have the capability to adapt to variable environmental conditions, pests etc that are locally specific to the land on which the wheat is bred. Local resilience is particularly important for organic farms and with global climate change, increasingly so for all farming systems.
Well that was three years ago and we are now just about to harvest our second crop. We have set up links with a local miller and baker to see what sort of bread we can make on our farm. My real concern looking out onto the ever-darkening wheat field is that we have lost the protein levels we require within the wheat to make a local tasty loaf.
But never fear, we haven’t given up yet. Wait, is that a blue cloud I can see in the distance?
Catch you next time.
David Rose, is a co-founder and co-director of Farmeco UK Ltd, a contract farming company established as a collaborative farming venture by four neighboring farms in Nottinghamshire. David also works part time with the Campaign to Protect Rural England on a mapping project as part of Making Local Food Work.
You can read more about David's work at:
For more information on Elm Farm's composite cross population wheat research, visit:
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
One local collective (pictured) that is keeping it real is being coordinated by Gilchester Organics in Northumberland. Having grown the cereal organically, Gilchesters then grinds its grain in the only registered organic mill in the north of England. Sybille Wilkinson of Gilchesters, which is supplying the grain to eight bakeries in the north east to bake a loaf to a recipe by Real Bread Campaign co-founder Andrew Whitley, says:
“We felt it was important to celebrate the coming harvest, a critical point in our calendar and one much overlooked by modern Britain. We would like to bring this celebration back onto the High Street and remind families and bakeries locally just what it means to get the harvest in.”
So, not that we need an excuse to celebrate locally produced Real Bread but Lammas is a perfect one. Even if you can’t see anything near you on the list, please have a look on our Real Bread Finder and buy a locally baked loaf of Real Bread anyway. For those of you not fortunate to have a bakery nearby, it’s a chance to roll up your sleeves to get baking and seize control of the bread you eat.
In addition to the round up at www.realbreadcampaign.org, which will be updated closer to the day, you can let others know about your own plans and share your ideas for Lammas on the wall of the Real Bread Campaign’s Facebook group and by tweeting @RealBread on Twitter.
Thursday, 2 July 2009
In this series we are championing the British high street and looking to help the shops that we hold very close to our hearts.
We are looking for independent bakeries that feel they may be getting ‘left behind’ and may be not doing as well as owners would like
- Are you finding it hard to make the money you would like to?
- Are you unsure about what to do to increase your takings?
- Maybe you have tried some changes that haven’t worked as well as you’d hoped?
- Would you like some help from Britain’s leading retail expert?
It is extremely difficult running a small business and with the current economic climate as an additional factor, it is no wonder that up to 100 shops a day are closing in Britain. But, through expert advice, sharing the tricks of the trade, and devising a solution specific to your store, we can try to get your bakery on the road to success. It’s a very special, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Please contact us to find out more. We would love to hear from you.
Please call Tom or Nikki on 020 7967 1285 or email email@example.com
And if you do get involved, please let firstname.lastname@example.org know, too.
Thursday, 18 June 2009
This new funding will help Sustain to appointment a permanent project officer to co-ordinate the campaign, a role filled until now by volunteers.
Over at least the next four years, we’ll be working around the country with independent bakers, public institutions such as schools and hospitals and local community projects including food co-ops and community cafés, to help make Real Bread accessible to more people from all sectors of society. We’ll also be continuing to promote the pleasures and benefits of locally produced Real Bread and helping to spread both commercial and domestic breadmaking skills.
All in all, it’s pretty exciting. As below, next on our calendar is Lammas on 1st August. Please get in touch if you want to join in the fun.
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
That’s why on 1st August we are calling on bread lovers across the land to enjoy a local loaf for Lammas.
We reckon that it’s a fine excuse for anyone who loves Real Bread to join the festivities with their own local activities and events.
Some ideas of how you can celebrate Lammas:
- Organise a Real Bread picnic for family, friends and other members of your local community
- Fun, tasty and messy hands-on learning by breadmaking with the kids
- Dig your bread machine out of the cupboard to make a loaf or two
- If you are lucky enough to have a local bakery, suggest they bake a special Lammas loaf
- If you are a local bakery, see the above.
- Learn to make a corn dolly (the Guild of Straw Craftsmen can give you tips)
- Go morris dancing (or perhaps just watch some morris dancers and then eat proper toast)
You can share your own ideas for Lammas activities and let others know about your event on the discussion board of our Facebook group. We’ll also be re-tweeting selected events sent to us @realbread on Twitter.
Closer to the day, we’ll put a round up of events at http://www.realbreadcampaign.org/.
Thanks to The Guild of Straw Craftsmen for the image of the Staffs knot above