I am not a baker.
In my working week, I am a support to communities and businesses across central Scotland – with the goal of creating more a diverse, thriving, and resilient rural landscape. This is not a baker.
In my volunteering life, I am an advocate for a better food system – with the goal of communicating the alternatives, and supporting innovative practice within food systems. This is not a baker.
In my domestic domain, I am a cyclist, a gardener, an aspiring shepherdess – with the goal of riding in beautiful places, cultivating happiness, and sharing space with wooly creatures. This is not a baker.
For the past six months though, I’ve been baking.
Week by week, little by little, I’ve been learning about the intricacies of Riverside Bakery CIC, a social enterprise sourdough bakery based in Stirling, Scotland. Under the wing of French baker-man Théo, the heart of Riverside Bakery, I’ve weighed and mixed, folded and shaped, slashed and baked.
Never though, have I fully and completely done this alone. Always with the baker-man at the helm. Now, Théo is off to France on a baguettey, cheesey, winey holiday to visit family. And me? I’m the baker.
Part of Riverside Bakery being a Community Supported Bakery is involving the community in what we do – which can shape the direction of the bakery and provide opportunities for people to engage with their food system. My rise from customer to baker (pun intended) is an example of this community involvement.
A passionate local and sustainable food advocate, I was a massive fan of Riverside Bakery and very reliable customer when they started up in autumn 2014.
From bread-nibbling customer, I have progressed to baking my own loaves (mixed successes!), to attending a couple of sourdough bread workshops, to regular home baking, then becoming one of the Directors of Riverside Bakery. By January, I was an apprentice-baker, learning more sourdough skills with each batch of bread baked. As well as learning the baking ropes, I’ve been helping with communications, collaborations, and selling at the monthly Stirling Farmers’ Market, one of my favourite things to do.
And now, it’s my turn to run the bakery on my own for a week. To make things slightly easier for myself, a back-to-basics menu is on offer – a rye bread, a wheat bread, and a pastry. No frills, but your weekly bread will come with a hefty dose of faith, community spirit, and good will on your part, dear bread-eater. Why? Because to support the community side of Riverside Bakery is to embrace the learning process for apprentices like myself – folks who want to learn, be involved, and help shape our food system, one loaf at a time.
I guess, for this week, I am a baker.
Wish me luck, and to be sure, updates will follow!