Heritage Festival, a priori

Heritage Festival, a priori

I’ve found it increasingly important to take baking out of bakeries and put in back in the hands of those who wish to smell the sweet aroma of nutty wheat in their own kitchens, schools, community centers and homesteads… Bread making should be woven into the fabric of a well-rounded day so our afternoons will be spent engaging with nature or weaving and our evenings will be tempered with porch sitting…

–Tara Jensen, Smoke Signals Bakery

Ideas permeate the air in much the same way the aromas of freshly baked bread do. Baker, Tara Jensen has been singing the praises for getting bread baking back into the hands of those who wish to smell the sweet aroma of nutty wheat in their own kitchens. Her manifesto is at the heart of Bakewell Farm’s own mission. It was a sad moment to report, that our much-anticipated participation in this year’s Heritage Festival, was cancelled due to relentless rains and stormy weather predictions. The Festival was our opportunity to connect with the community and begin the process of building a common ground among regional bakers.

Until we have the opportunity to stage the event again next year, here are some of my imaginings of how it might have unfolded. It’s my a priori attempt to take you through Bakewell Farm’s experience at the 27th Annual Heritage Festival on Sunday, September 16th.

The action stations are situated to deliver the theme of “Bread for Each Other.” The aroma of the hands-on flatbread station fills the air, while over to the other side of the room in the Sterner Building, a tabletop electric mill is a-buzz grinding whole wheat berries into fresh flour. Children are encouraged to squeeze the moist warm flour in their fists to learn “first hand” how fresh flour should feel and smell. Camille Horton presentation on how to incorporate more whole grains into one’s diet is another topic that grabs the attention of a young couple with their toddler in tow. Monique Washirapunya of Gateau Monique is measuring the ingredients to make a delicious and simple-to-make power bar. A few people gather to watch how simple it is to make; others grab the free samples and recipe cards as they move along to the next demo.

Kevin and Melinda McGrath of McGrath’s Bakehouse are addressing a handful of people gathered around a lovely display of their naturally leavened organic breads. With warmth and a quiet passion for baking, they describe the many steps and nuances for how they balance their professional lives as bakers and as parents of two young children. Bakewell Farm’s massive 4-ton mobile bread oven sits like an armored vehicle, just outside the double-doors of the Sterner Building. Gettysburg High School physics teacher, Eric Withers and I are talking to a group of his high school physics students about thermal mass and conduction and how these qualities provide just the right amount of energy to transform dough into a nutritious loaf of bread.

During the last hour of the event, all the presenters become an ad hoc discussion panel. A conversation begins with someone asking the question, “How should bread making be woven into the fabric of a well-rounded day?” We can only speculate a priori since we never got the chance to pose the question or to have folks offer their own answers. To that end, Bakewell Farm invites anyone interested in having a real conversation to come out and visit. We bake bread every week and we have begun providing a wholesome bread & butter snack for Ruth’s Harvest backpacks, where we are always in need of volunteers to help with packaging and deliveries. As the saying goes, “many hands make light work.” It’s also a great way to talk about our mission and how we can become “bread for each other.”

Marc Jalbert, Founding Director of Bakewell Farm, a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to promote “bread-centric” educational programs for building community while engaged in the practice of public service. Please visit us at: www.bakewellfarm.org or better yet, become Facebook friends of Bakewell Farm.