Latest update from the project

Dear supporters,
I hope you are all well and having a nice end of the summer.
I know it has been a while since you heard an update from the project; the reason is that there has been much uncertainty about how we could move forwards in the face of the challenges we have been encountering through the winter spring and early summer. There have been lots of changes in the last few weeks, lots of letting go and new paths and possibilities emerging now.

Let me explain….

Reaching our target with the Crowdfunder at the beginning of the year was truly amazing and gave us a lot of energy and encouragement. However we were still working under financial stress and most important we were running out of energy and needed new people getting involved. We had a lot of work on and were unable to spend enough time properly recruiting, organizing work days, events… in short pulling together the community support and resources that were there for us. Some of you had pledged skills as well as funds and we never had the time and energy to get properly in touch with everyone and gather the support.
We had underestimated how much it would take to build a kitchen from total scratch with very little money. We were overstretched and struggling to cope.

These difficulties affected a lot how we functioned as a group and we started to experience inner conflict which took away further energy. Different members had different ideas about how to move forwards in the face of this crisis and making decisions and working together proved difficult. As the months passed It was becoming clearer that we couldn’t sustain the project at Blackhorse Workshop.

Simon had been baking and brewing from the “Fermentarium” (the name of our space at BW) twice a week throughout the winter and spring; we kept doing courses from Hornbeam since BW proved to be a very cold venue despite the huge wood burner they had installed. So the space was underused and the bills kept coming.

A couple of weeks ago we had no other choice than to end the lease of the collective with BW as we were unable to meet the financial cost of keeping the space. We were really sad at the prospect of losing the venue and all the work we had put into building the kitchen with all your contributions. As a group we could not keep it going but after some talks we have found a way to have continuity:

The good news is that we have agreed with BW that Simon will stay brewing and baking at the space at a personal level sharing it with a little local business which would take care of the cafe side of things. So even though things will change on paper and in some practical ways the story and the project carries on… The Hornbeam center, always supportive, will keep hosting evening baking and other classes.

We will be dismantling the Community of Interest Company and keep operating as a collective. We all need a good break from it and most former members have disengaged at least temporarily but new bakers are showing up and Renee and Arlene (two great bakers) are taking responsibilities for organizing the baking for the saturday stalls and midweek baking (that keeps happening from bakers’ homes).

So yes the story continues if somehow looks a little different. The truth is that these things happen when one takes a risk and we have all learned a lot by going through this process, especially from the difficult moments, especially from the letting goes and the allowing new ways to emerge that make more sense.

I want to apologize for the lack of communication in the previous months but honestly it was difficult to know what to say until we ourselves gained clarity.

We hope you don’t feel very disappointed after placing your support and your trust in us for this adventure, we can only say that we did our best and will continue to do so, we can only say that the adventure continues and the community spirit lives on.

With gratitude and best warm wishes,

Hornbeam Bakers’ Collective

Some of you haven’t still collected your rewards, they are here waiting for you, please do get in touch!*

“Hidden Voices” event (January 2014) testimonial

Written by Daniela Othiano co-organizer of “Hidden Voices”:

“For our ‘Hidden Voices’ event in London we wanted
somewhere local in Walthamstow, a place with good
values, a venue or project that would benefit from hosting
us – financially and maybe also in less tangible ways.
The Hornbeam Bakers Collective has been around for a
while, operating from the Hornbeam Community Cafe,
creating great bread and wonderful food from local
produce, and sharing baking and other related skills
around the community. In a serendipitous way, we heard
that they were setting up in a new venue at Blackhorse
Road Workshop: an old industrial site, in the process of
transforming into a skillshare centre for wood and metal
work and a cafe.
It was the kind of in-between, liminal space that our event
and our background of gentle disruptions and interest in
hidden stories needed: A growing, working space, urban,
still a bit makeshift and beautiful because of it. With
people who full of good will and often against the odds,
try to do something for their community.
The Bakers hosted us with much care and generous
portions of delicious organic and gluten free food.
Despite not being fully set up themselves at the time,
they gracefully helped us make it all happen. It felt like an
expression of their dedication to go out on limbs, to get
stuck in, to be open and to work for new ways.”

Fermenting foods

An evening of fermentation.  Learn how to ferment a range of vegetables to create refreshing new flavours. Create your own to take away, learn how to combine them into salads, solve the problem of allotment gluts and learn some preserving techniques. This course is for complete beginners and also for people who have already started fermenting but are not completely satisfied with the results. Friday 23rd May and Friday 20th June, 6:30 to 9:30 at the Fermentarium (Sutherland Road Path London E17 6BX). £30. To book a place email :

Fermenting gherkins - after 2 days

Fermenting gherkins – after 2 days

Baking and brewing reunited!

The connection between baking and brewing has been restored at the Fermentarium. Our first brew made with organic pale malt, crystal malt and Sovereign hops is now fermenting happily. For centuries baking and brewing were carried on side by side so that yeast could be shared. After all they are similar techniques, fermenting dough creates alcohol which is lost during the baking process, while the mashing wort is a bit like a very runny dough. A result of the close proximity of baking and brewing was barm bread which was made by scrapping the yeast head off the fermenting beer, mixing it overnight with flour and then using that to leaven the bread. So some barm bread experiments on the horizon…

First wort downloading from the mash tun to the copper

First wort downloading from the mash tun to the copper

Bakers Arms cancelled but still a souper Wednesday!

Today we were meant to be celebrating the opening of the re-furbished public space at the Bakers Arms junction with our bread stall, but the event was cancelled last minute.  It’s raining so actually not complaining after the chill winds on Saturday’s Growing Communities Market. Still a busy day we’ve delivered a batch of loaves including 100% wholemeal spelt sourdough and Pain au levain to the Mill for the fundraiser with Walthamstow’s Food bank, Eat or Heat. Our bread is accompanying the pea, pak choi & pesto soup knocked up by Nat and the crew. If you are about the last Wednesday of April then come down and see what soup/bread combination awaits. Souper Wednesday

Today the chuffins, tomorrow the cake!

This weekend marked a year since we returned to do Growing Communities Farmers’ Market in Stoke Newington. Nearly every fortnight our sourdough stall has been selling out with the chuffins (sourdough chestnut muffins) usually first to go. To build on this success and take up a new challenge we are about to take a walk on the sweet side and add cake in the very near future. What is your favourite cake? Ever had sourdough cake? Come and let us know so we can create some super tasty stuff!

Chuffins and cocofins in big buffet mode

Chuffins and cocofins in big buffet mode

From Archway with love

The Fermentarium’s convection ovens are nestling in their new home! Our master builder, Edek, led the collection from the 15th floor of the Archway Tower. The twin ovens once separated weighed in at 156 kilos apiece but thankfully fitted into the lift with a few millimetres to spare. A big thanks to Essential Living for the generous donation of the ovens and thanks also to the contractors of Doveguard who helped us move the buggers. The ovens from the old DWP canteen are now being cleaned and then wired up by Suat and will be providing our bakers with the means to expand production. Better bread for all!

Archway from up on high

Archway from up on high

new ovens

The lower oven now in place