Here at Startacus we come across all sorts of inspiring people and projects every day. Some we like, and some we quite frankly love. This happens to be one of those. Loaf is a social enterprise initiative based in Birmingham. It all began when the very aptly named Tom Baker started experimenting with making sourdough bread at home. He became increasingly enamoured with the whole process and this passion led to him leaving his job as a nutritionist in the NHS and taking up bread making instead.
Wanting to share his knowledge and to pass on his bread making skills, Tom began to teach bread making at home every weekend. He held small intimate classes where he taught all sorts of people the basics of making good sourdough bread with all his students taking a little of his own ‘starter’ with them after each class. His dream however was to keep teaching but to have a dedicated place to do it as opposed to his own home kitchen! Last year that dream came true when the Loaf Cookery School opened in Stirchley, Birmingham.
Moving to new premises of course takes money and it is heartening to see that it was another local business, family brewery Everards who invested in the site and its refurbishment so that Loaf could take that next step. Premises now sorted, getting the necessary equipment in place was the next task. Loaf did this in a truly innovative way. To fund the equipment, the School arranged a ‘bread bonds’ deal, whereby the business asked 25 people to each invest £1000. Their money would be returned after 3 years, together with 6% interest paid in, not cash...but in loaves of bread. Ingenious huh?
Moving to dedicated bigger premises has not only meant that the School has been able to teach more people and run a community bakery, but it has also been able to help support other artisan food makers in the local area. Other courses are held on site teaching everything from wild food foraging to preserving. Loaf also regularly hosts pop up dining experiences, thereby supporting lots more local chefs, bakers and baristas. All this right in the middle of a high street just crying out for regeneration.
If you like this motivational food based tale then you might also like our article on The Peoples Kitchen and if you’ve got a few minutes, check out this short video of the Loaf Story. It's great!
The Loaf Cookery School
If only there were projects like this in every town and city...
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