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.”

…First baked goods !

As you know at the very end of the year we made it to our Crowdfunder target ! It was wonderful to feel the community support (we had 110 backers which felt great) and we want to thank again everyone who was behind, with your help the works at the new space continued to develop

… Things tend to take more time than one thinks and that has definitely been the case with our new bakery. The commercial ovens have had several failed attempts to being delivered (we’re still waiting for them and looking forwards to having them installed!), we are still missing other key bits of equipment (like refrigeration and mixer, although the kitchen is SO cold that we might make heating a priority over refrigeration!), the cob oven refuses to dry in this super wet winter weather and most important our human resources are quite stretched and we are feeling tired… BUT we have started producing baked goods in the kitchen using the domestic oven and they have been wonderful! The Blackhorse Workshop had a preview party a couple of weeks ago and we catered for the event providing some beautiful dishes thanks to the good work of Gaba, Raju, Pam and Simon, most of the food was cooked in people’s kitchen’s in our Bakers’ Collective tradition but some delicious gluten free bites were produced by Raju at the new bakery and we were proud!

This last friday we hosted an event called Hidden Voices (here’s their blog http://effectivenessinaction.tumblr.com/) and again the food was delicious and this time fully baked and prepared at the bakery; Raju’s skills as a chef were wonderfully displayed in a gluten free and vegan menu that was commended by everyone.

And today Simon spent the day baking at the venue, the first proper shift, congratulations and thanks Simon! …now we just need the proper equipment to arrive… Schumacker wrote a “study of economics as if people mattered” called “Small is beautiful”    … I think Slow can be beautiful too.

The Blackhorse Workshop http://blackhorseworkshop.co.uk/ opened its doors on saturday 1st February, come to check it out and pay us a visit; we will be increasing our baking activity as the month progresses, at the moment we are there Tuesdays and Fridays  selling bread, baked goods, tea and coffee and likely to be there many other times if you pop around, see you soon!