The Real Bread Campaign, part of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming,
is funded by the Big Lottery's Local Food programme and the Sheepdrove Trust.
If you're sick of industrial loaves and wondered 'how can I help to bring Real Bread back to the heart of my local community?' Community Supported Baking (CSB) might be the answer.
If you are working on starting a CSB, are wondering if what you're up to already is in fact a CSB, or have any other related questions, please get in touch.
A CSB isn't simply a bakery within a community, but one in which the risks and rewards of the enterprise are shared. It's true that a local bakery is supported by people in the community buying loaves, but only as and when they feel like it. For the enterprise to be considered a CSB there must be a greater level of involvement and commitment. There needs to be some blurring between the ‘me baker / you customer’ line, with each becoming what Slow Food movement would call a co-producer. See below for CSB ideas/examples.
The inspiration for Community Supported Baking comes from Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), which The Soil Association describes as “A partnership between farmers and consumers where, at best, the responsibilities and rewards of farming are shared.”
Potential benefits for the baker
Potential benefits for the consumer
There is no single model for how a CSB is set up. Each runs in a way that works best for the people running and using it.
There are many different possible partnership configurations between the baker and community. The most suitable in your situation depends upon the needs and offers of the parties involved. We provide more detail in Knead to Know.
A community bakery could be owned and run by the consumers.
One way for a community to support a bakery is to provide the capital in the form of loans, or shares in the business. T
In kind investments
In kind investments could include waiving/reducing costs of: property rental, flour, grain, milling, equipment, labour for fitting out the bakery, shifts running the shop, shifts in the bake house, another local business adding bread on its own delivery rounds and ‘back office’ (accounts, ordering, marketing etc.) support.
Subscribers making a financial investment in the CSB receive their interest (or even repayment of the loan itself) or share dividend in bread.
Bread as bread
As local produce hits seasonal gluts, the CSB could offer customers discounts on or payments in bread for those ingredients that could be used in loaves e.g. apples, herbs, potatoes, nuts and berries.
Customers commit to and pay in advance for a certain number of loaves over a given period of time e.g. two loaves per week for three months. As well as helping the CSB with cashflow, it gives a better idea of demand, thereby reducing risk of food waste
In return, as well as a guaranteed supply of fresh, Real Bread, subscribers receive a discount (perhaps increasing in line with increasing level of commitment) on the CSB’s standard single loaf price.
As with any enterprise, labour is a major cost. Members of the local community could become co-producers in a CSB by providing their time in return for alternative payments e.g. bread, returned favours or an official LETS scheme.
A more established CSB could enter into a relationship with the wider community of Real Bread bakers by offering an apprenticeship/internship. In this case, the exchange would be the trainee baker giving time in return for the chance to gain skills and experience.
Food hubs and buying co-ops
Co-ops and food hubs operate on a not-for-profit basis and aim to use its bulk order to reduce the price of goods. Both systems can help with getting Real Bread to people who otherwise would have issues (financial, social, geographic or other) with access to it. A CSB can work in partnership with or even incorporate a food hub or buying co-op.
Knead to Know: the Real Bread starter contains chapters on marketing and media relations.
The Soil Association has produced Community Supported Agriculture marketing advice, some of which can be translated for CSB.
As part of The Soil Association's support for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups, Rob Greenland from Social Business Consulting ran workshops on marketing for CSAs. Much of this information is of relevance to CSBs. Click here for notes from his presentation.
So far, we know of the following places on our courses page offer ones that focus on community baking:
The Real Baker-e
When you join the Real Bread Campaign, you will have access to The Real Baker-e, our online forum.
This mutually-supportive community of more than 500 Campaign members - many of whom are involved in Community Supported bakeries, microbakeries and other bready enterprises - ask and answer each other's questions and share ideas and advice.
Other places out in cyberspace in which you can make connections include:
Visit our events calendar to find or add details of opportunities to meet other Real Bread enthusiasts.
Here are the UK CSBs we know of so far. All have said that they are happy to chat to people who want to learn more about their stories.
If you see yourself as a CSB but are not on this list, please drop us a line as we’d love to learn about what your up to and help share your experience and advice with others.
"Bread: Made by the community, for the community! We are a new community bakery in Bedale, North Yorkshire. We are passionate about bringing Real Bread to all parts of our community. As a non-for-profit organisation we hope to provide a fantastic resource for the people of our area and to enrich our community through our work. For Bread: We aim to use local ingredients to bake our hand crafted, high quality bread. For Community: We aim to remove all barriers to Real Bread to all members of our community. We also aim to enrich our local area through our community work."
The enterprise's evolution ran in tandem with the restoration of Crakehall Watermill, which was followed by Keo Films and broadcast by BBC2 in December 2011 as The Big Bread Experiment. Along the way, the bakers were given expert guidance by Campaign members Duncan Glendinning and Patrick Ryan of the Thoughtful Bread Company; Dan and Johanna McTiernan of The Handmade Bakery; and Campaign co-founder Andrew Whitley of Bread matters. Action for Market Towns case study of Bread...Actually!
Breadshare Community-Supported Bakery
Breadshare is a not-for-profit community-supported bakery in the Scottish Borders producing real bread on five days a week. All of our bread is made using slow fermentation methods and no additives. We make breads in the traditional, artisan way and use, wherever possible, flour made from freshly milled and locally grown wheat.
Breadshare Community Interest Company continues to raise funds through loans, investments and small grants to build the capacity of this sustainable Community-Supported Bakery. We supply local village markets, small businesses, box schemes and aim to increase access to real bread for many more members of our local community.
Community involvement includes volunteer bakers, local people selling the bread at numerous village markets, and the innovative distribution system we call 'bread baskets', which makes use of existing neighbourhood networks and journeys. A sustainable, local supply chain is also being developed, which will increase Breadshare's positive effect on our local, rural economy. Loaf loans, on which investors receive their interest in bread, are another means of community involvement as well as of 'raising the dough'.
This Cambridge CSB started in February with support from Transition Cambridge Food Group, with the aim of working with, and providing Real Bread to the people of Cambridge. Loaves are made by a range of keen bakers, working alongside an established baker Peter who runs Loaf for Life from home. All the flour used is organically grown and milled locally at Foster’s Mill at Swaffham Prior. They are in the process of setting up a subscription scheme to raise funds to continue to develop the project, with discounts on workshops and bread. The bread is currently being sold at Fulbourn Community Market. They welcome local people to join their monthly meetings.
Dunbar Community Bakery
Opened in October 2011. "Dunbar Community Bakery Limited is a community co-operative that is owned by its members and is accountable to them. By investing as a shareholder you will become a member of the co-operative. All shareholders have just one vote, no matter how much money they contribute. You will be helping to build a positive future for our community, supporting a regenerated High Street and the local production of wholesome and nutritious food. This new venture will fill the gap left on the High Street left by the closure of Smith’s Bakery." Read more in this BBC Scotland business news article
Food 4MaccDirect Bread Club
The Bread Club began in February 2012 as a group of friends meeting up in one of their homes to chat and make Real Bread together. In June 2012, the club moved to the new Food4MaccDirect hub, allowing ten ‘breadies’ to knead together at each fortnightly session. In September, two new fortnightly sessions were introduced, plus occasional weekend bakes. One is run by two regular bread clubbers who got the baking bug, are now confident bakers and keen to share their skills with others. Each breadie makes two loaves, leaving one to be baked at the hub for sale to Food4Macc members (handmade Real Bread for £1.60!) and takes the other home to bake for themselves. All ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, including flour from walk mill, and the tins are even made in Macclesfield itself.
The Forest Bakehouse
'We are planning to set up a new artisan bakery in the Forest of Dean, inspired by other artisan bakers all over Britain, especially those running Community Supported Bakeries. Our bread is made by hand, using the best available ingredients and fermented slowly to achieve outstanding flavour and texture. We would like to share our enthusiasm for good bread with everyone and are inviting people in our local community to consider becoming involved in our project, creating a lasting and innovative enterprise model.
The Handmade Bakery
As far as we're aware the first CSB in the UK. Dan and Johanna McTiernan and Matt Betts lead this worker-owned co-operative in Slaithwaite, Yorkshire, offering a Real Bread subscription scheme. Having started by baking two loaves at a time in their IKEA oven at home, then graduating to borrowing the pizza oven of a local Italian restaurant, they next moved on to bake over 1200 loaves of Real Bread a week at the back of the community-owned Green Valley Grocer. In Summer 2011, a community shares scheme of bread bonds (interest paid in loaves or baking lessons) raised £40,000, allowing them to move to a yet larger bakery, whilst maintaining their community, co-operative and Real Bread principles.
Lewes Community Kitchen
'The Lewes Community Kitchen is now up, running and rocking – we’ve been baking Real Bread every Friday involving the Lewes Bread Club and have a full programme of cookery and baking workshops running from September. I’ll be running further training for the Lewes bread club to help it become a stand-alone entity and will be setting up four more bread clubs in East Sussex and Brighton in the next year.'
Loaf Social Enterprises
Having founded Loaf to promote real food and healthy living in Birmingham and build community through food, appropriately-named Tom Baker launched his CSB subscription scheme in early 2010. Loaf moves from Tom's own kitchen to a bakery on Stirchley High Street in summer 2012.
The Oxford Bread Group
Cereal breeder/grower (and archeobotanist) John Letts and Cornfield Bakery director Geoff Coleman set up a subscription scheme to get Real Bread, baked from locally grown wheat (heritage/ancient varieties that also produce good thatching straw) to local food hubs.
Slow Dough Bakery
Leon Pearson launched his bread club in January 2011. Members pay a monthly subscription and receive a large loaf of their choice from the bakery's range, which they can collect from the bakery in East Berholt, Suffolk, on a Saturday morning. This ensures members have the loaf of their choice and also get a discount on the standard retail price.
Example prices for a one month subscription: (prices correct January 2011)
The Fife Diet / The Steamie Bakehouse
Matthew and Zillah have been baking organic wholegrain sourdough in their kitchen at home in Dunfermline, Fife since 2009. In early 2011 they then moved the bakehouse out into the 3m x 3m garden shed to continue baking in a woodfired rocket oven.
Matthew is now baking around two hundred loaves a week, which he delivers twice weekly to a number of breadclub drop-off points in Fife and Edinburgh. These range from offices, universities, cafes, small shops and family homes. All the loaves are sold in half kilo and one kilo weights and start at two pounds a loaf. Matthew also teaches the art of Real Bread making through the local food network Food for Fife, so members of the community can bake at home.
Leeds Bread Coop
This small group of bakers is planning to set up Leeds' first Community Supported Bakery in January 2013. The co-operative aim sto produce Real Bread in a socially and environmentally responsible way; make Real Bread available to a wide range of people; offer food-based workshops that will empower people to develop their skills and improve their health. The co-op is using the peoplefund.it crowdfunding website to raise the money they need to buy an oven.
This community bakery project is in the shadow of Liverpool football club and aims to be baking and selling Real Bread by the end of this year with the help of a team of dedicated members, friends and volunteers.
Two years ago, Homebaked Anfield and Community Land Trust, established throuigh 2Up 2Down, decided to bring honest baking back to Anfield. After the family-owned high street bakery Mitchells closed in 2010 when the owners retired, Homebaked's mission became to ‘rebuild Anfield one loaf at a time and one brick at a time’. They have been open for around a year, with a shop front forming part of an art Biennial that highlights Liverpool’s neighbourhoods that have been 'blighted in the name of regeneration.'
Lynn Tolmon who is part of the baker's dozen team wants the co-operative to be 'the reason for people to come to Anfield'. They are currently open one day a week to spread the word about the bakery while fundraising, and invites people to 'pop in and say hi!'
'We are currently running a CSB trial called 'the baker's dozen' from a suburban flat. We bake twelve loaves of Real Bread a week and deliver to twelve households over twelve weeks; we're currently on week seven. Knead to Know is now rag eared and flour filled; the recipes were a good starting point, and the general advice is shaping what we're doing. We're just getting registered so as to attend a couple of local events and farmers markets..then who knows?! One loaf at time...'
East Anglia Food Link
Is exploring the options for baking a local loaf, perhaps in a CSB scheme.
Could your community enterprise benefit from free specialist support?
As part of the continuation of support being provided through Making Local Food Work, Plunkett Foundation has launched a new wave of specialist support to all community food enterprises. This support includes:
For more information about how we can help your community food enterprise, visit the Making Local Food Work website or contact Enterprise Officer Richard Snow by emailing richard.snow [at] plunkett.co.uk or calling 01993 814388.
The scheme has also produced a range of local food resources.
Assists co-operatives and other third sector organisations to become incorporated and offer long-term governance and legal support for those co-operatives that are members of Co-operativesUK.
The Soil Association
Produces a lot of material and information to support Community Supported Agriculture. Much of this may be of interest and/or use to those looking at starting a CSB, including: A Share in The Harvest: An action manual for community supported agriculture
Provides detailed advice for local food co-operatives. Their Food Co-ops Toolkit is primarily aimed at groups working with fruit, vegetables and other wholefoods, much of the information would be equally relevant to a bread group.
f3 is a co-operative Community Interest Company providing consultancy services to the local food sector. Can offer Up to five days free consultancy to community food enterprises in England, under the Making Local Food Work programme.
Community Food Hubs
A paper published by the Food Supply and Distribution project, which is investigating community-led approaches to building more robust and sustainable food systems. The project is run by Sustain as part of the Lottery-funded Making Local Food Work programme.
'The UK's only one-stop marketplace for Social Enterprise Training and Support'
'The Fresh Ideas Network supports community food projects which aim to make healthy/local food more easily available, accessible and affordable to local communities, particularly in areas of disadvantage.'
Loan Finance for Social Enterprises (UK)
BIGinvest is a specialised provider of finance to social enterprises. Social enterprises are defined as businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profits for shareholders and owners. Loans are available for Commercial property renovation or purchase, equipment purchase, growth or acquisition and working capital. The average size of Big Issue Invest's loans are around £200,000. The minimum loan size is £50,000. Each loan is tailored to each enterprise's stage of development and risk profile, as well as being focused on scale-up.
Applications can be submitted at any time.
An article on Community Supported Bakeries, Agriculture and Breweries
CSBs beyond Blighty...
The Backdoor Bakery
"The Backdoor Bakery is planning to offer its customers a share in its Community Supported Bakery (CSB). Borrowing from the concept of community supported agriculture, consumers and a bakery join together in economic partnership in a CSB. In this partnership, consumers purchase a "bakery share" – a weekly delivery of quality pastries, breads, and desserts – and the bakery has a reliable and stable market for its products."
Indian Ridge Farm
"The CSA at Indian Ridge Farm & Bakery is unique in that members will receive not only FRESH organically grown vegetables and salad greens (assuming no blights, grasshopper infestations or major drought!), but also pastured poultry raised and processed on the farm, organic bread and granola from the bakery, and eggs laid by pastured, grass fed layer hens."
8 Arms Community Bakery
"8 Arms Community Bakery offers you a chance to participate in a bakery share program. Using a “community supported” model the bakery lover can buy into a share session for 20 weeks. Each week you get a box of baked goods to enjoy. This model allows you to build a relationship with the producer of your goods. Your money’s paid up front (or in a payment plan) which allows me to buy ingredients in bulk and avoid over production. This keeps prices affordable and the money you spend goes directly into the local economy."
All Good Bakers
"Similar to the structure of the Community Supported Agriculture model, our CSB brings our shareholders sustainable bread & baked goods, made with organic (locally milled) flours and other local, organic (or organic-practices) ingredients, every week during the winter season, November to April. Nick & Britin Foster have been baking for regional farmer's markets for the past 7 years. We are passionate about baking with local and organic ingredients, partnering with local farms and proudly publish our suppliers. We believe supporting our local farmers is critical to building our local economy and the health of our community.."
Community Bread Oven
"...uses baking to empower women in low-income and immigrant communities in Boston. Through our Women Bakers Program, CBO partners with bakeries and local kitchens across Boston to train women in baking and business management. These breads are then sold through Community Supported Agriculture and seasonal outdoor markets, as well as through a catering branch servicing cultural organizations and their functions. As an additional initiative, Community Bread Oven builds community ovens across Boston. These tangible ovens serve as a gathering place for residents and their families, fostering community pride and enriching the public space."
Hot Bread Kitchen
"...is a non-profit social enterprise that creates better lives for low-income women and their families. We do this by paying women while they learn the skills necessary to launch food businesses and achieve management track positions in food manufacturing. To help offset the cost of our training and to build esteem in the contribution of immigrants, we sell delicious multi-ethnic breads that are inspired by our bakers and the many countries that they come from. We make it a priority to use local and organic ingredients. As part of our mission, we preserve valuable baking and culinary traditions and “br-educate” New Yorkers about the tasty and important contributions of immigrant communities. We offer bread shares 22 weeks out of the year."
The Wild Oven
"The WILD OVEN Breadshare makes the best, freshest bread available to the people of Juneau, with minimal waste, shipping and packaging, while providing right livelihood to a local artisan. In this world where quantity reigns over quality, independent artisans struggle to honor the traditions of our ancestors, against the dehumanizing force of industrialization. The cost of the Breadshare is $5.71 per loaf ($6 with tax). Sign up with a minimum 5 loaf payment of $30 ($28.58 without tax). 10 loaf payment of $60 recommended. Your credits will never expire."
Diva Boutique Bakery
"Join our C.S.B. Program and pre-pay for your baked goods. We’re offering 2 – 5 week program options till the end of the year. Programs can be tailored to your tastes, below are some guidelines: €80 program (€16/week)= 1 700g loaf of fresh bread (your choice) 2 brownies/bar cakes – ½ loaf cake. €45 program (€9/week) = 1 700g loaf of fresh bread (your choice) 2 brownies/bar cakes – ½ loaf cake Weekly pick-up @ Kinsale farmers market Wednesdays, or Thursday in Ballinspittle Programs begin 9th of November and end 7th of December 2011, pre-payment required, with option to extend your program."
"Raisin' Dough is a Community Supported Bakery; members purchase an 8-week subscription and receive a generous weekly share of artisan breads, cookies, pastries, cakes, pies and more, all baked by students in the Promise Culinary School Baking & Pastry Program. The Bakery runs year-round, and subscriptions can start at any time. Shares are picked up on Fridays from 3-6PM at the Culinary School, located at 211 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick. 8-week subscriptions are available for $150 ($18.75/week). The Bakery will begin operations with only 25 members, so sign up today! Membership is a great way to support your community and enjoy delicious baked goods at the same time."
Fancy and Delicious
'We are a micro-sized bakery who believe in real bread at real prices for real people. A strong community starts with good food and a robust local economy. Support your local bakers!' Based in Buffalo, NY state. Each shareholder pays $50 for which they receive one loaf of Real Bread a week for twelve weeks.
Columbia City Bakery
Seattle, USA. 'Our Community Supported Bakery (CSB) aims to create a more direct relationship between our artisan bakers and customers. A subscription to our CSB provides you with a weekly delivery of breads and sweets, dropped off at a convenient location in your neighborhood. You can personally select the items you want, or you can let our bakers make the decisions for you with our Baker's Choice'
McGrath's Brick Oven Bakehouse
'This fledgling business in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania making true artisan bread. By definition, that means a high-quality, distinctive product in small quantities, made by hand, and using traditional methods. Our methods can be summed up in three main factors that will not be compromised: organic flours, naturally leavened, baked in a wood-fired brick oven. During December 2012 we are running a crowd-funding campaign to raise $20,000 for the building of a 4x8.5 ft hearth brick oven attached to the converted garage of our home, which will provide nourishing Real Bread to the surrounding community via a CSB program. Please visit our site, watch the video, and help us build this oven! Thank you!'
Our book, Knead to Know:the Real Bread starter, gives much more information on how to set up your own bread making business.
For more support, why not join other bakers, millers, growers, retailers, activists and Real Bread lovers in general and become a member of the Campaign? Amongst the benefits this offers is access to The Real Baker-e, our online community (of 400 members and growing) in which members can share information, ideas and ask each other questions.
Most importantly build up your experience of baking Real Bread, both in your own bakehouse, and working alongside an experienced professional - perhaps as part of our voluntary apprenticeship scheme.